This found its way to my inbox today. I was quite moved by it and would like to give it to many, many people. I’ll start here and see what happens. It is not copyrighted per the email.
Sunday Mass is the heart of Catholicism. Yet, there has been a dramatic drop in attendance at Sunday Mass. Recent polls indicate that less than 50% of Catholics go to Mass on Sunday. In the past, the word that Catholics dreaded to hear most was “excommunicated.” Today they “excommunicate” themselves; they refuse to go to Mass. Some say they get nothing out of it; the homilies are boring. Others want to know if they have an obligation to go to Sunday Mass. What can we say to these people, some of whom are our relatives and good friends? I have thought of this for some time now and offer these thoughts for your consideration.
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? You say you are a Catholic. Sunday Mass is the very heart of Catholicism. You believe in Jesus. You want to do the will of Jesus. Well, this is the will of Jesus. You say you love Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me keep my commandments.” This is the command of Jesus. “Do this in memory of me…For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the death of the Lord till he comes.” (1Cor. 11: 24-26) Are you really a Catholic?
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? Mary is “our tainted nature’s solitary boast,” the “Immaculate Exception.” So you are a sinner. You are a sinner actually in the past, potentially in the future and you carry this treasure is a very fragile vessel. You need a savior. You need salvation. Here is the one and only Savior and the very act by which you are saved, re-presented now sacramentally, so that you can participate in it. And you want to know if you have to do this?
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? You started out as zero, zip, nada. You are a conglomeration of the gifts of God. All that you have, all that you are, all that you will ever be is a spin-off from the reality that God loves you. “What do you have that you have not received?” You should be grateful for all God has done for you. Here is the Eucharist which is the greatest act of thanksgiving. Have you fallen in love with the gifts and forgotten all about the Giver? As the poet said, “Ingratitude the most unkindest cut of all.” And you call yourself a Catholic?
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? The first and most powerful instinct in every human being is self preservation. With all the powers of our being we want to live. Yet we know we have to die. The Eucharist is the pledge of your resurrection. “I am the resurrection and the life…Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:54) “Eat, drink and be merry” for tomorrow we die and live with the risen Jesus.
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? In Baptism we forge not only a personal relationship with the Lord but also become a member of the Christian community, the Mystical Body of Jesus, the People of God. To believe is to belong. The Sunday Mass is the celebration of the presence of the Living God in the midst of His people. It is a powerful and essential support group for Christian life in a counter-Christian culture. The Eucharist is the source and sign of unity and community. This is one of the great tragedies today. Young people think that they can become themselves by breaking away from their family, church and even country and manufacture their identity on their own. They do not realize that they are turning away from the very things that give them substance and identity. So they end up with no roots, no identity, now knowing who they are, where they came from and where they are going.
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? Our Lord first called his followers as disciples, “Come follow me.” And then he sent them out as apostles, “Go into the whole world and make disciples of all nations.” This is the dynamic of Catholicism. This intake and output, this discipleship and apostolate is realized in the Mass. We assemble as disciples to hear the Word of God in the Scripture and to receive the Word of God in the Eucharist. Then we leave the Mass as apostles to proclaim the Good News by our lives and to heal with our love.
Why should you go to Mass on Sunday? Sunday Mass continues the two-fold mission of Jesus to proclaim the Good News and heal the sick. The Liturgy of the Word proclaims the Good News and the Liturgy of the Eucharist heals. If simply touching the hem of Jesus’ garment could heal, what healing must take place when you receive his Body and Blood.
But you say, “I don’t feel like going to Mass.” The two disciples on the road to Emmaus didn’t feel like believing in Jesus they felt that it was all over so they were getting out of town. Then this stranger walks along with them. They feel their hearts burning as he opens the Scripture to them and then they recognize Jesus in “the breaking of the bread.” They turn around and return to Jerusalem to proclaim the Good News. Even if you do not feel like it go to Sunday Mass, your heart may burn also as they open the Scriptures in the Liturgy of the Word and perhaps you will recognize Jesus in “the breaking of bread,” in the Liturgy of the Eucharist and you will turn around and return to the Church to proclaim the Good News to those others who do not feel like going to Mass.
How strange then to hear people ask, “Is there an obligation to go to Mass on Sunday?”
“Obligation?” You have to be kidding. We’re talking about privilege. If it is an obligation that will determine whether or not you go to Mass on Sunday forget the obligation. That is not your problem. You have a greater problem than that. Your problem is faith. You just don’t believe. You’re not a Catholic.