Mass

It is offered both at weddings and funerals. In most places, it is available every day. But on Sunday, it is an obligation to attend. We are speaking of what Catholics call the Mass, aka the Eucharist or the divine liturgy. For Catholics, there is no other religious service more important. But the majority of baptized Catholics around the world simply don’t see the need to attend.

Of those who don’t, the majority still believe that God exists, that Jesus is his Son, and that there is an obligation to give thanks. Some, remembering the truth of the Catechism that God is everywhere, don’t see why they can’t pray to God in private at home or wherever they are, whenever they want. Others see the value of going to church on Sunday but find the preaching, music, and programs better at a nearby Protestant church. With regard to Mass, they say they just don’t get much out of it.

If we want to see these people come back to the table of the Lord, we can’t merely quote Scripture and Church documents at them to prove they ought to go. The best approach, really, is to make them want to go. And the best way to do this is to be able to show how Mass offers a unique opportunity to encounter God that is not available anywhere else.

Instinctively, those who believe in God know that they owe him worship. After all, we’ve received everything from him. So we ought to give him thanks and offer him a pleasing sacrifice. Scripture is clear: There is no sacrifice worthy of the name except the one sacrifice that Jesus offered on the cross. Hebrews 10:12 says that Christ “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins.” That sacrifice cannot be repeated. The Mass is not an additional sacrifice or a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice; rather, it is a re-presentation of the one sacrifice of the cross.

It is true that God is present everywhere, including when we pray to him alone or when two or three of us gather in his name. However, in the Eucharist, there are at least four extraordinary ways that the Lord Jesus is present that transcend the ways he is present outside the liturgy of the Catholic Church.

  1. Christ is present in the community. Even when it’s hard to see Christ in our fellow Mass-goers, he’s really there. People gather from various places; some of them are distracted and preoccupied.As they come into that church, though, they’re no longer just scattered individuals but members of Christ’s body. At Mass we deepen our communion not only with Christ but with the whole Church, including the saints and our beloved deceased.
  2. Christ is present at Mass in the person of the priest. Some Catholic priests are astounding in holiness and powerful in their preaching. Others are not. The good news is that Christ’s presence doesn’t depend on the priest’s personal virtue. Christ makes himself present through a unique charism the priest has been given through the sacrament of holy orders.
  3. Third, the Lord is present in the Eucharist in the Word of God. The first part of the Sunday Mass centers on readings from Scripture: one passage from the Old Testament, a psalm response, another passage from the New Testament, and then the Gospel. These readings are arranged so that Sunday Mass-goers hear the most important passages from the entire Bible over the course of three years. In addition to the readings, the word of God comes to us through the prayers of Mass.
  4. The final and most special way that the Lord is present in the Eucharist is in his Body and Blood, present to us under the signs of bread and wine. How is this possible? The transformation of the bread and wine happens the same way Mary’s virginal conception did: through the power of the word and the power of the Spirit. The incarnation may seem impossible, yet all Christians believe it. It is accomplished the same way creation was: God spoke and the world was made out of nothing through the power of the word and the Spirit. Likewise, in the Eucharist, the One who said, “Let there be light” says, “This is my Body,” and “This is my Blood.” Through the power of the Spirit invoked upon the gifts, the awesome change takes place.

— Marcellino D’Ambrosio (Excerpt from Why Go to Mass? catholic.com)

Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe. (Hebrews. 12:28).

Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews. 4:12).

Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew. 28:18-20).

A voice coming from the throne said: “Praise our God, all you his servants, [and] you who revere him, small and great.” Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready. (Revelation. 19:5,7).

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians. 3:16-17).