Monday, 11 August 2008

Why go to Mass?

I recall a few years ago hearing a 70+ yr old revert to the Church (he'd been away from her for 50 years) trying to persuade some of the other men at the Catholic Club to go back to Mass. The men were grumbling that Mass was boring and they couldn't see why they should go, they didn't feel any different for not going, God hadn't smited them.....

Our zealous revert retorted with "Well shaving's boring, but you still have to do it."

Whilst it may not be the most convincing argument, it does hit on a few important facts. Firstly obedience - we have to, the Church tells us that we should go each Sunday. In a "me me" world, obedience is difficult, you will get a "But why?" and as your answer to that is not good enough a "prove it" will triumphantly be exclaimed. You will have no answers that will convince...Convincing a waverer of the importance of obedience is like convincing the child who has yet to burn themselves on a hot plate not to touch it.

Christ proclaimed "Do this in memory of me" at the Last Supper. We want to remember those we love, we should attend Mass as the greatest possible memorial of His death and resurrection.

Yes, but Christ didn't say go each week, put up with over long sermons and in-jokes from priests over chummy with the great and good in the front pew.

This brings me onto the second point made by my zealous revert. Routine. Consider our human selves; in adult life, prone to grow hair where it isn't wanted and lose it where it is wanted, we need grooming. If we leave ourselves to the tender mercies of all the world has to offer, surely our souls can become bedraggled and develop plenty of "unwanted hair". Mass, even if you feel unable to attend communion, even if your faith is flagging (especially if your faith is flagging because your effort is like the widow's mite) , must be good for your soul. Making the effort to leave the house, join others, trying to focus on the supernatural, loving Jesus and doing as he asked.....your soul will gain strength even if you can't feel the benefit.

St Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:8:
let us put on faith and love for a breastplate, and hope of salvation for a helmet.

When we lose our faith, or it starts to waver, we can still have love as a breastplate protecting our own hearts (love Jesus and do what he says even if you can't feel where it is going).

Protect our heads with the helmet of hope of salvation. All our rational thoughts and difficulties need prioritising, St Paul is not asking us to believe in salvation, just hope for it....Hope is expectation and desire.

What better thing to desire than heaven?

Mass should be a foretaste of the banquet of heaven, it may often seem to fall far short, this collectively is our fault, the fault of the Church, for not desiring heaven enough.

Please read terry Nelsons post here for further help.


James M said...

Being obliged to go to Mass each Sunday is a wonderful gift. Even if you are bored stiff and don't want to be there, just the fact of your being there means you are pleasing God (because you are being obedient if nothing else). I think on Judgement Day we will be glad of these 'trinkets' (our obedience to the rules even when our heart was not in it), for God in His mercy is likely to value them far more than we can imagine.

Tom in Vegas said...

All those things you said, plus a continuation of the search for God, are reasons to go.

Rita said...

I agree with you both!

This post was written for some ladies who are suffering (to one degree or another) a "dark night of the soul". To drift from the Mass in their agony could be just about the worst possible thing they could do...

Please pray for them.

Adrienne said...

There are a vast number of "Catholics" who don't even realize they are obliged to go to Mass on Sunday. And it will get worse as the young people are not taught the precepts of the church. Sad.....

ukok said...

Wonderful post, Rita :-)

I very much enjoyed reading it and i also wanted to mention how very grateful i am to you for your lovely comment on my blog yesterday. Hugely. Hugely. Hugely encouraging.

God Bless you!

Rita said...

Yes it is easy to get down, especially when some pastors even suggest that Mass attendance is not necessary....I'll just battle on telling it like it is, this will probably mean I'll never win any friends at the Bishop's palace.

Ta muchly and thanks a million for the card!

AutumnRose said...

I will make my confession and go this week, even though I am unable to feel anything at all about anything at all right now. It's not about feelings, is it?

Rita said...

To me, routine and obedience provide a valuable crutch when feelings (or lack of them) are in danger of swamping the ship.

la mamma said...

Did you get the latest mailing from Aid to the Church in Need? There's a snippet about Fr Ragheed Ganni, who died in Iraq last year -
Father Ragheed Ganni hadn't got far from his church one Sunday when his car was ambushed. They shouted: "I told you to close the church. Why didn't you do it? Why are you still here?" Father Ragheed simply replied: "How can I close the house of God?" A few seconds later, the 35-year-old priest and the three sub-deacons with him were shot dead.

There - it's easy for us but not so for far, far too many people, yet they do it. And if they do, and our persecuted ancestors did, how ashamed should we be if we don't?

On another tack, I know a few times I've been at Sunday Mass when, if I hadn't been obliged, I wouldn't have been (just back from holiday, stressed with work, whatever) and praying with thanksgiving that we are obliged, as I was grateful to be there, to take the time out. 'God will never be outdone in generosity' as the late Fr. Holloway used to say, and in my experience (and in His own way, of course!) it's true.