Why bother going to Mass? Part Three

FOR OUR KIDS?

This is the third and final post in the topic stream entitled, Why bother going to Mass? We will discuss several additional reasons to attend weekly Mass. Of all the many reasons there are for attending, this first section describes a fundamental reason: For our kids.  


As we have covered in previous points, parents have an enormous impact on the faith of their children. If parents neglect their responsibilities to God, their children will follow their poor example. If one believes in God and follows Christ, attending Mass (or church services for non-Catholics) is a Biblically mandated practice that provides the attendees and their children many benefits  —  not least of which are improved grades in school (see the [1]site in the footnote for more information).

Assuming the study in the footnote is correct, our children will perform better in school if they attend church each week. Couple that with the stability, discipline, and faith formation provided by attending church regularly, it seems we are taking a valuable developmental tool away from our children if we do not bring them to church each week.

TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD

People are social by nature and often gain substantial strength from gathering with other people to embolden their faith. Seeing other men and women in similar situations sitting next to us in Mass is a powerful means to connect with other people, and a reliable means of connecting to the Lord through sharing our faith with the community. Christ mandates us to: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,…” (cf. Matthew 28:18-20). How can we make disciples of all nations if we are unwilling to join our communities in worship every week? Some might say we are not called to make disciples of all nations; however, the mandate was never revoked. The Church cannot attain that goal without help from the faithful attending Mass each week.

In [2]Genesis, God stated it is not good for man to be alone. By attending Mass or church services we are entering a prayer life united to all those attending, and we unite ourselves to Christians across the world.

We can and should study the Bible at home; however, by gathering with others and by listening to the Priest’s homily, we are forcing our ears to take in words that we would not otherwise hear or know. Our lives are often busy — taking time to read Scripture at home is an activity that many people place way down the list of their priorities; yet, as St. Jerome once said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” By attending Mass each week, we are guaranteed to digest at least some of the Holy Scriptures. The Catholic Church urges the faithful to read the Bible, and it uses St. Jerome’s statement above (paragraph #133 in the [3]Catechism) to support personal study of the Bible. 

Catholics should read and study Scripture regularly. They should enrich their reading each week by gathering with other Catholics at Mass, where they will hear the Scriptures recited, and where they will listen to a homily centering on the passages. During every Sunday liturgy, there are four readings from Scripture (Old Testament, Responsorial Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel). During weekday Masses, there are three readings. Many of the prayers said at Mass are based on Scripture. The Mass is based on Scripture  —  attending Mass is a Biblical function in nearly all ways.

The Church follows a three-year cycle for its Bible readings; if a Catholic were to participate in Mass every day for three years, they would hear a large swath of passages from the Bible, though, importantly, studying Scripture outside Mass enhances our knowledge of Christ and His Word (perhaps by joining approved Catholic Bible Study groups and programs).

If one wants to know Christ, they must study His Word and receive Him in the Eucharist. It is a sad fallacy that Catholics do not read the Bible or that the church bans Catholics from reading Scripture. The church has always placed a high value on reading the scriptures, and since Vatican II, that emphasis has increased.  

Attending Mass is an act of Christian fellowship, and it provides the spiritual food we need for our journey with Christ (by receiving the Eucharist and hearing God’s Holy Word)

GOD COMMANDS ATTENDANCE

It is essential to notice the title above  —  the Church commands weekly worship at Mass, yet we must come to the knowledge that it is God at the center of that command. God calls us to attend Mass because it is for our great spiritual benefit, the Church repeats the Lord’s call.

God included the observance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments, Christians are not bound to the Law of Moses; however, the Commandments still hold value for all people. For Christians, the Commandment to observe the Sabbath was changed to worshipping and gathering on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). The Church, having Divine origins,  received the power to make such [4]pronouncements from Christ:

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
[Matthew 16:13-19]

 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. [Matthew 18:18 RSV-CE]

In the passages above, we see the foundation for the Papacy when Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter (meaning rock), and Christ proclaimed that He (Jesus) would build his Church upon the Rock of Peter. Jesus promised to give Peter the keys to the Kingdom and the power to bind and loose, which means Peter received authority from Christ to make binding pronouncements upon the Church, and those decisions are ratified by heaven (the Papacy was handed down to Peter’s successors). The other apostles received the power to bind and loose, as we see in the second passage.

 Receiving the keys meant that the recipient held the authority of the person giving the keys (in this case, Jesus gave Peter the keys, which means Jesus gave His authority to Peter in Jesus’ absence). Peter and his successors and the apostles and their successors, received the authority to decide what is permitted and what is forbidden by the Church and the faith.

The Pope and the Church hold Christ-given authority to make binding decisions, one of those decisions has been to shift our weekly worship to Sunday, which makes sense for many reasons, not least of which is that Sunday is the day we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord.

To summarize, God proclaimed a weekly day of rest and worship, and God extended his authority to the Church, and the Church moved the weekly day of worship for Christians to Sunday, which means we must attend Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days or else we are guilty of sin (unless we have a serious reason to miss Mass on one of those days).

BECAUSE WE LOVE GOD?

By developing personal discipline in our walk with Jesus, we draw closer to the Lord. Recall, the Lord does not need us to be at Mass/Church every Sunday; we need to be there. The Sabbath was made for man (we were not made for the Sabbath). Likewise, worship of the Lord on Sundays is for our spiritual, moral, and life benefit. Each time we gather at Mass and receive the Lord in the Eucharist (while in a state of Grace), we receive Graces for our journey.

For some people, attending Mass does not impact their lives in an immediate or current sense, yet perseverance is what leads to increased faith. We receive spiritual fruit and benefits during Mass. However, beyond the many gifts we receive, it is always healthy to recognize our weaknesses before God and to offer God our time as a display of our love and respect for Him, without considering what’s in it for us.

Each week the Lord gives us the gift of 168 hours. Of those, God and the Church ask for one hour, which is less than one percent of the time we receive (167 hours for ourselves, 1 hour for God). Can we not find enough love for God to give him less than one percent of our time in love and gratitude for all that He does for us?

These points hold true when we are on vacation, or if we do not want to attend Mass or church for whatever reason. The obligation to attend every Sunday and on Holy Days is not lifted because it is inconvenient for us to attend. There are ways to find a Mass close to us that fits whatever scheduling circumstances we might have. Developing structure in our spiritual life leads to fruit, and it is a sign of love for God that we attend Mass.  [5]Internet sites contain Mass, Confession, and Adoration times to use when we take trips for business or pleasure. We should plan our time away to ensure we do not miss Mass wherever we go. Our souls will fill with Graces, and our families will reap the benefits of our efforts to stay close to the Lord. As we need food and water to sustain our bodies, our souls also require regular nourishment. We receive that nourishment for our souls when we receive the Lord in the Eucharist and when we hear his Word in Scripture. We perform our daily work, whether we feel like it or not, we should strive to do the same for God and our souls. When we attend Mass/Church when we do not feel like going, we have fought against our laziness, and we reap the Graces inherent in worshiping the Lord at Mass.

How can any Christian find more significant spiritual feeding and enrichment than by going to Mass and receiving the Real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Risen Lord?

WHAT CAN WE DO?

There are many additional reasons for attending Mass every week. This work serves as a primer on the subject since making a choice to follow the Lord is a journey, not a one-time act. Our walk with the Lord lasts a lifetime.

Fathers, please do an honest analysis of your faith life. Are you living a life that Jesus, your wife, and your children, desire for you? Are you embracing the truth that fathers have an enormous impact on the faith life of their children? Do you understand your children have a significant chance of holding onto the faith if they see that you love the Lord and if they know that you make the Lord, Mass, and the faith the center of your life? Do you understand if you do not practice your faith, there is a significant chance your children will do the same (they will not follow the faith)? Do people around you know you’re a Christian (if not, why not)? Consider this passage as you contemplate your walk with the Lord, and ask yourself if you feel ashamed:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. [Romans 1:16; RSV-CE, italics added]

We should learn more about our faith by studying the Bible and by reading the early Church fathers and doctors. We should attend Mass every week and on Holy Days of Obligation (Church services for non-Catholics). Over time, the rest will fall into place — you might find yourself attending daily Mass once you feel your soul on fire for the Lord. 😊

SUMMARY

We hope this short work offers a compelling argument for Catholics to return to Mass; therefore, let us review the reasons we have discussed:

  1. The change from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood (we live under the New Covenant).
  2. The transition from worshipping God on the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day (the Church, using its Christ-given authority moved weekly worship to Sunday).
  3. The change from the Old Covenant blessing of God’s Presence in the Holy of Holies to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for all people to receive in faith.
  4. For the sake of our children and their future faith.
  5. To gather in fellowship with like-minded people.
  6. To hear God’s Word proclaimed weekly.
  7. Because God and his Church mandate weekly Church attendance.
  8. For the love of God.

A CHALLENGE: It is often stated by non-Catholics that they do not feel spiritually fed during Catholic Mass, yet it is through the Mass that we receive the Real Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. How can any person, of any non-Catholic faith, receive greater spiritual feeding than by receiving the Lord in the Eucharist?


[1] https://magazine.nd.edu/news/more-church-better-grades/

Live Science: http://www.livescience.com/culture/080819-church-grades.html It is important to note that the study sited does not focus on one faith, yet according to the study it appears that academic and life benefits are derived by young people who attend Church.

[2] Read Genesis 2:18…”Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

[3] Please read paragraph #133 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

[4] Both passages are from the Revised Standard Version – Catholics Edition.

[5] For Mass times across the nation go to: http://masstimes.org

That site will allow you to search for Catholic Churches, Mass times, confession and adoration times for cities and towns across the nation. The site is useful when planning for business trips or vacations.

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