5 reasons we need to celebrate Mass on Sunday — every week

| Father Michael Van Sloun for The Catholic Spirit | April 10, 2012 | 0 Comments

1) Sunday Mass fulfills God’s law. The Third Commandment is, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8; see also Deuteronomy 5:12). The Christian Sabbath is Sunday, and Catholics keep the Sabbath holy by fulfilling the obligation to attend Mass (Canons 1246-1248; Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2174-2178). The commandment is not a suggestion or a request; it is a command or an order. The law makes compulsory what we should want to do on our own.

2) Weekly worship follows Jesus’ example. Jesus was in the habit of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Luke 4:16b). His mother Mary was “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) and his stepfather Joseph was “a righteous man” (Matthew 1:19) and they both carefully “fulfilled all of the prescriptions of the law” (Luke 2:39), which means that they went to the synagogue every Sabbath. Not only did they observe this law themselves, they took their son with them, and when Jesus was old enough he went on his own. If Jesus observed the Sabbath at the synagogue every week, we should observe the Sabbath and go to Mass every week.

3) Sunday is a day of thanksgiving. Eucharist means thanks. It is right and just to give thanks to the Lord our God, and the Mass is the best prayer to offer thanks. God graciously blesses us with everything that we have: life and health, food and shelter, family and friends, intellect and talents, opportunity and resources — and faith. These gifts are so awesome that we ought to be overflowing with gratitude and eager to give our thanks and praise. The ideal is to give thanks every day. Weekly thanksgiving is a bare minimum. If we give thanks only intermittently or rarely, we fail to adequately honor the giver of the gifts.

4) Community prayer is essential. From the beginning of the church, the community “devoted themselves . . . to the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). Christians pray together by nature, and the Mass is the premier form of communal prayer. Some make the unfortunate claim: “I can pray by myself and I do not need to go to church.” Usually the more negligent a person becomes with their Mass attendance, the more negligent the person becomes with their private prayer. There are two pillars to a well-rounded prayer life, communal and private, and to do one or the other exclusively is to be imbalanced. The more a person prays privately, the more the person should want to worship with the community, and the more a person worships with the community, the more a person should want to pray privately.

5) Weekly Eucharist is solid spiritual food. Most people are health-food conscious. It is important to eat properly every day to avoid hunger pangs, weakness, malnutrition and disease. It is the same with our spiritual life. We need to be spiritual-food conscious if we wish to avoid emptiness, spiritual weakness, vulnerability to temptation and sickness due to sin. The Mass begins with the Liturgy of the Word. God told the prophet Ezekiel, “Eat what is before you; eat this scroll” (Ezekiel 3:1). God wanted him to devour his word, and God wants us to do the same. Peter accurately observed, “Master, you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The second half of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Jesus declared, “My flesh is real food, and my blood true drink” (John 6:55). Spiritual malnutrition begins when we go without Word and Sacrament longer than a week.


Mass talking points

Sunday Mass is not a show on stage; it is worship, prayer before an altar.

Sunday Mass is not what we get out of it, but what we give. The more we put into prayer, the more we get out of it.

Sunday Mass takes just one hour out of the 168 hours in a week.

Sunday is not the day we should sleep in. We force ourselves to get up on work days and school days. Are money and learning more important than God?

Sunday Mass attendance does not depend on the priest, musicians or ushers. We dare not allow any person to stand in the way of our worship of God.

Sunday Mass is available on vacation. If we can drive to a vacation spot, we can drive a short distance to go to Mass.

Sunday Mass is the focal point of every weekend. Our vacations are possible because God has richly blessed us.

Sunday Mass outranks sports tournaments, team travel and athletic practices. There are many Mass times available.


Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor at St. Stephen in Anoka.

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