There are so many hungry souls out there looking for God, yet they do not see that God is right there with them. God is truly ubiquitous. He is all around us, yet so many fail to see Him.
I find that the best place to really connect with God is at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Receiving Him in Holy Communion is the closest that you could ever get to anyone, closer even than to your spouse, because you are privileged to consume the very Body and Blood of Jesus and become one with Him in a way that is so incomprehensible, yet so simple.
The world needs Jesus; it always had and it always will; but so many people do not even know who He is, why He came, or what He did, much less how He is made physically present at Mass. Fewer still know what the Mass commemorates. Our enemy the devil knows, and that’s why he hates the Mass.
The Hidden Treasure
People are staying away from Mass in droves. Some go to non-denominational churches where they feel more welcome. Some say they are more comfortable with a Christian band and a friendly pastor rather than an unfriendly Catholic congregation and obtuse clergy. Another popular reason people stay away is because they feel they don’t belong. They feel they are not good enough. They feel like outsiders.
I love the Mass. I am transported in time and space to Calvary to be with Jesus at His cross, standing there with Our Lady. I love to share my faith in and love for Jesus with everyone. I encourage all people to seek the Lord. I want everyone to know that God is not distant and angry, gleefully waiting to condemn His creation, but that He loves us and the greatest expression of His love is the Mass. The Mass is the highest form of prayer in all its many beautiful rites and liturgical expressions. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brings us into the divine presence of God. We experience heaven while on earth at Mass.
I’m not sure why so many people I encounter feel unworthy of God and shun the Church out of a false sense of humility or shame. I used to think people simply avoided Mass out of laziness, but I’m starting to think otherwise. I think there is a variety of sincere motivations behind many people’s reluctance to come. I would like to discuss a few stumbling blocks and potential cures.
The Sickness and the Cure
First, people think that they are the uninitiated, that everyone else understands everything about Scripture, the Church, and the Mass and they don’t. It is all a big mystery to them, a secret everyone is in on but them. That is a myth. Unfortunately, many people have been poorly catechized; therefore, many people in the pews are probably as lost as someone who attends very irregularly.
The cure: When you go to Mass, prepare the night before. Look up the Mass readings for that day on the USCCB website, then choose one reading and look up Catholic Commentary on that reading on Daily Scripture Readings and Meditations by Servants of the Word.
By preparing the night before and reading Scriptural meditations, you allow the Holy Spirit to open your mind and heart to Scripture like never before.
Second, many people do not feel worthy. Many people think they must be perfect or at least good or maybe not as bad as they think they are. Nothing is further from the truth. There are no saints that sit with us in the pews, only sinners to a greater or lesser degree. Jesus assures us that where great sin abounds, greater grace abounds.
The cure: At every Mass we all pray the penitential rite. That means all of us sinners get to say we are sorry to God during our worship and the Lord recognizes our weakness and desire to repent and He draws near to us. Holy water is a wonderful way to expiate venial sins. When we bless ourselves with holy water, the venial sins are cleansed. Before we receive Holy Communion we pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
Jesus heals our souls and prepares them to receive Him, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. There is also the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), usually offered Saturday afternoon and on request. Everyone sins; if you think you are so bad, you are probably not. Go to Confession if your conscience is bothering you. It is the most wonderful way to get closer to the Lord.
Third: I don’t have the time. Except in unusual circumstances, I can’t buy that one, especially from people who live in large cities. Mass times are frequent and stretch through mornings, afternoons and evenings.
Cure: Make assisting at Mass a priority. Search the internet for Catholic Churches near you, check out their Mass schedule, and go to the Mass that best suits your schedule. Make it a family affair. Do something fun afterwards with the family or other parishioners.
Fourth: The Church is screwed up. I am so put off by the clerical abuse scandal. Nobody is friendly in Catholic churches.
Those convictions may be true in some instances. But if you are honest with yourself and look around, wouldn’t you say the same thing about our educational system? There are sexual abuses of our children as well as mental and psychological brainwashing occurring by so-called educators. If you are not home schooling your kids, you are ignoring the problem and sending them anyway. Most corporations are corrupt and the daily work grind is boring and inane, yet you show up every day in order to get paid. Nothing is perfect. Every institution among human beings suffers from corruption, and the same goes for the Church Militant.
Cure: Find a parish you like and enjoy going to. If nobody greets you, greet them. If the parish is not to your liking, find another one. The abuse scandal is horrible, but everyone is supposed to be assumed innocent until proven guilty. Be diligent and careful. Pray for your priests and religious. Do not allow the evil actions of some sick people to turn you away from your faith. They have betrayed the Church, as Judas betrayed our Lord in the beginning; but our Lord Himself still awaits us in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to bring grace and healing to any who come to Him, as He has from the time He walked among us.
Fifth: it is boring. Sure it’s boring if you are not mentally and spiritually present. The secret to not being bored is to pray the Mass.
Cure: Pray the Mass with the priest. You can google the order of the Mass and print it out, follow along, and even pray the prayers the priest says quietly. Read the readings in the missal. Participate by singing and praying the responses. Be present. Don’t clam up at Mass; pray it loud and proud. Imagine the unseen! Participate as if you were at a concert or sports game.
I would also strongly suggest reading “The Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass” by Fr. Michael Muller, C.SS.R. It is the very best book I ever read on the Mass. You will fall in love with the Mass if you haven’t already.
The Power of the Mass
Padre Pio once said, “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.” Indeed! Nobody is too good or too bad to go to church. God wants you there. The Church Militant wants you there; the angels and saints want you there. The only one who would rather see you at your kid’s soccer game, at the beach or sleeping in rather than at Mass is the devil. So many souls are snatched out of his hands through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The power of the Mass is beyond our comprehension. It is the means of our salvation. The Mass is the Passover of the Lord, the Eternal Sacrifice, the un-bloody re-presentation of Jesus’ Sacrifice on Calvary. Jesus, through the miracle of transubstantiation, becomes food for our bodies and souls. There is a miracle occurring at every Mass and if you have the eyes to see it you will be awed, every time.
When I gaze upon that miracle of transubstantiation, and the priest raises what was once bread and wine and is transubstantiated into the body and blood of our God, I shake inside from awe and my eyes fill with tears of joy and wonder from the feeling of being loved that much by God. My prayer is that everyone reading this will experience that feeling of love when they witness the wonderful miracle of the Eucharist.
“For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation; for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 1:11