Why Do We Have to Go to Mass on Sunday?DOUGLAS MCMANAMAN
"Why do we have to go to Mass?" is one of the most frequently asked questions that students address to their religion teachers, and recently I received an email from a former student asking for an article that he could share with his friends that answers that very question.
For a Catholic, though, that's half the story. There are more weighty reasons that are offered by divine revelation. Christ came to save us. He came to save us from sin and the prospect of eternal death. He came ultimately to die for us: "There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!" (Lk 12, 50). It is his death and resurrection that saves us. He alone could buy us back from unending death by offering his life as a ransom because he alone is divine, that is, fully God and fully man. His sacrifice on the cross is the perfect act of religion offered on our behalf, and it is this act that justifies us, redeems us, and saves us: "Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life" (Rm 5, 7-10).
To sum this up, we have a natural duty to worship God in some visible way that expresses a real internal act of devotion. And this natural obligation of justice is further confirmed in the first three commandments of the Decalogue: "You shall have no other gods besides me; You shall not take the Lord your God's name in vain; Keep holy the Sabbath day" (Ex 20, 1-8). And finally, on top of all this, Christ gives us his very self in the Eucharist, allowing us to be part of the most perfect act of justice that alone brings eternal life, and from which we derive tremendous strength and the grace to do His will and achieve our destiny, which is to know and love Him for ever.
And so the question now is: "Why would someone not want to go to Mass?" In fact, why would a person not want to get to Mass every day? If we believe that Christ is really and truly present in the Eucharist, then it is not going to matter that the singing is bad or the sermon is boring. What will matter above all is that we receive communion. There is no greater privilege than that of being able to participate at an ordinary Mass and receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Such a privilege only adds to the debt we already owe to God, and since an element of our own happiness is the feeling of having a debt that cannot be paid, the more we grow to love the Mass and hunger for the Eucharist, the happier we will become.
McManaman, Douglas. "Why Do We Have to Go to Mass on Sunday?" (March 2006).
Reprinted with permission of Douglas McManaman.THE AUTHOR
Douglas McManaman is a high school religion teacher with the York Catholic District School Board in Ontario. He is currently teaching at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario and maintains a web site, A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page, in support of his students. He studied Philosophy at St. Jerome's College in Waterloo, and Theology at the University of Montreal. Mr. McManaman is the past President of the Canadian Chapter of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. Douglas McManaman is on the advisory board of the Catholic Education Resource Center.
Copyright © 2006 Douglas
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