Missing Sunday Mass?

On any given Sunday about 25% of Catholics in America attend Mass (Georgetown University CARA Study, 2012).  That means the great majority of us AREN’T in the pews.  Some legitimate reasons we might miss Mass include having to work, being sick or caring for someone who is ill or infirm, caring for an infant, and severe weather that makes travel dangerous.  There can be other valid reasons for missing Sunday Mass, too. But it’s hard to imagine that 75% of us are missing Mass for one valid reason or another.  The Church teaches that we must attend Mass on Sunday and some holy days–for our own good.  Coming together to worship God and celebrate the Eucharist dates back to the first years of the Church.
 
Worshipping together was a crime punishable by death from about 64 AD (under Nero) until 312 AD (under Constantine).  Even being accused of being a Christian could lead to execution.  But it really wasn’t individual Christians that the Roman Empire saw as a threat to the state  It was their assembly together at Mass that the government saw as an act of treason.  This same assembly is viewed by the Church as the way we fulfill our membership in the Body of Christ.  For both Church and Empire, the way you know someone was a Christian is if they shared regularly in worship.  How many Catholics today could meet this definition of being Christian?
 
Of course, just going to Mass doesn’t guarantee a deep and rich relationship with God and our neighbor.  Like the old saying, going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.  But the Church in her wisdom knows that NOT coming to Mass on Sunday is a sure way NOT to be a Christian.  Worshipping together is central to our Christian lives.  “It is the liturgy which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist ‘the work of our redemption is accomplished'” (Constitution on the Liturgy). During the Roman persecutions, the government focused on killing the clergy and confiscating property and homes used for worship.  The Empire thought that by depriving the Church of a means to come together in corporate worship they could stamp out Christianity.  Yet the Roman Christians regularly risked their lives to come together for the celebration and sacrifice of the mass.  They believed with all their hearts that in the Mass they encountered the very Person of Jesus Christ in the ultimate expression of His redeeming love.  This is why the Church obligates us to come to Mass—not because the Church loves making rules, but because the Church knows that our salvation is through the saving work of Christ and in His command that we receive His Body and His Blood in the Holy Eucharist.  “Do this in memory of me”(Luke 22:19). 
 
When we miss Mass on Sunday for no good reason, it’s as if we are turning away from Christ’s sacrifice of love on the Cross.  Mass is the public prayer of the Church where we gather as members of His Body to ask forgiveness of our sins, to thank Him for His love for us, to learn how to be close to Him and to share in the Eucharist, which is Christ Himself.  The Eucharist is how we allow the Holy Spirit to “work out our salvation”(Philippians 2:13) in us.  That process within us continues throughout our lives and so at least every Sunday we need to participate in this eternal journey.  Saying “no” to Sunday Mass without a good reason is saying “no” to the process of redemption that Christ died to give us.  We turn away from the sanctifying grace we need for eternal life.  If you’ve been away from Mass, come back.  Let God know you’re sorry for being away from Him.  Most parishes offer the Sacrament of Confession each Saturday, or you can call your local parish office for a private appointment with a priest.  God loves you and wants you to come back and worship with His family, with YOUR family (Romans 8:35).  We’re blessed to live in a country where we can still freely worship Christ without fear.  He is waiting for you.
 
“…All who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice and to eat the Lord’s Supper.”
                                                        —Constitution on the Liturgy

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