Why Go to Mass? - 4th May 2014

Pope Francis addressed this question in a general audience in St Peter's Square in early February. We go to Mass, he says, because we are sinners in need of forgiveness who participate in Christ’s redemption in the celebration of the Eucharist. You can view the talk at http://americamagazine.org/media/videos/why-sinners-go-mass.

If we believe that liturgy is the summit and source of the Christian life, we know how essential it is to be nourished regularly at the table of the word and the table of the Eucharist. Faith weakens over time without the support of a like-minded faith community and without the pastoral care offered by belonging to a parish.

When we celebrate Mass, we gather to hear our foundational story – the story of Jesus and the New Covenant – so that we will not forget it. Our story is recounted in the readings from scripture, in the homily, in the recitation of the Creed and in the Eucharistic Prayer.

We go to Mass because it forms us into the one body of Christ. Receiving the Body of Christ at Mass calls us to live what we receive and believe, to show more clearly through what we do and say the presence of Christ in our world.

Worshipping with a community of fellow believers takes us beyond ourselves to become part of something bigger. It enables us to experience Eucharist as participation in a cosmic event celebrated by men and women of faith in every corner of the world for 2000 years.

When both personal experience and Church teaching tell us the Mass is central to our faith, I scratch my head at the reasons people sometimes give for not being part of the worshipping community. A gentleman informed me last week that his adult children were so upset when a woman instead of a man read the Gospel at a Sunday Celebration of the Word (when no priest was available to say Mass) that they had stopped attending Mass. (Of course a woman can read the Gospel at a lay led liturgy!)

Another family no longer attends Mass at all because the Parish Priest asked that the praise band their teenage children belonged discuss with him beforehand the music they planned to play at Mass.

These two stories reminded me of this that I came across recently:

Twelve Reasons Why I Quit Attending Sporting Events
1. The coach never came to visit me.
2. Every time I went, they asked me for money.
3. The people sitting in my row didn’t seem very friendly.
4. The seats were uncomfortable.
5. The referees made decisions I disagreed with.
6. Some games went into overtime and I was late getting home.
7. The band played some songs I don’t like.
8. The games are scheduled on the only day I have to sleep in and do errands.
9. My parents took me to too many games when I was growing up.
10. The games are boring because they always do the same things.
11. Since I read a book on sport, I feel I know more than the coaches anyway.
12. I don’t take my kids because when they are old enough they should decide for themselves which sport they want to follow.


Elizabeth Harrington