Over the years, there have been students in my First Communion classes, who have not spent much time attending Mass. More and more families seem to have reasons why going to Mass doesn’t fit into their weekend schedules. “It’s our only time off. We run errands on Sunday. Our kids have sporting events. We are just too busy.”
Although receiving the Eucharist for the first time, is recognized as valuable…for a few children that first reception of Our Lord may be a unique event in their lives.
This is very sad. I imagine the Blessed Mother weeping as I write these words.
Jesus gave us the sacrament of the Eucharist and said, “Do this in memory of me.” God had already given us the Law—“Keep the Sabbath holy (and we do this by coming together to worship Him.)” Over the centuries the Church identified five things called “precepts” that are the basic minimum for our spiritual health—that means we should make every effort to do more than this!
Attending weekly Mass tops that list. The health of our souls depends on a commitment to Mass, in the same way that the health of our bodies depends on diet and exercise.
There are many reasons why every person should go to Mass every week, (and attend weekday Masses when that is possible):
- Weekly attendance at Mass is one of the “Precepts of the Church.” Skipping Mass, for no valid reason, is a sin. And sin is an act that separates us from God.
- In order to know God more fully, we need to listen to His Word on a regular basis. At Mass we have the opportunity to grow closer to Him through Scripture and through reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus. If we attended weekend and daily Masses, we would hear the entire Bible read every three years!
- We already know the value of discipline and practice for becoming good at a sport, or in learning any new skill. The same is true for developing a relationship with Our Savior. We need the discipline of weekly attendance. We bring Him close to us by regular participation in the Mass.
- God works in mysterious ways. But He most certainly blesses those who put forth effort to develop their spiritual lives through regular prayer and participation in the sacraments. Many of the saints were so profoundly moved by participation in the Eucharist that they lifted off the ground! Such occurrences may not happen everyday, but God blesses the effort we put forth in our spiritual lives.
- Our children need to know what is truly important in life. “Where your heart is, there your treasure lies.” There is no earthly treasure that can compare with the bountiful love of Jesus! How can we put other things before Him?
- We come together as a community at Mass. Together we make up the Body of Christ. So when some members of the Body are missing, the whole community suffers in a subtle way. We need each other!
- Jesus is the “bread of life” who sustains us and gives us peace when we are anxious. He gives us courage when we are afraid. He gives us hope when we feel hopeless. The best time to receive these gifts is at Mass.
Understanding the five Precepts of the Church can help us grow spiritually.
The Precepts of the Church
These Precepts are the “positive laws decreed by pastoral authorities” for all Catholics. They are the “necessary minimum” requirements in the moral life and are needed to help us grow in love of God and neighbor. (To read more see the Catechism CCC #2041.)
The Precepts are these.
1. Attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation and rest from (servile) labor on Sundays.
The Holy Days are: Jan. 1, “Mother of God”; 40 days after Easter “Ascension of Jesus”; Aug. 15 “Assumption of Mary”; Nov. 1 “All Saints Day”; Dec. 8 “Immaculate Conception”; Dec. 25 “Christmas.”
2. Go to Confession at least once a year.
3. Receive Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.
4. Observe the days of fasting and abstinence.
5. Help to provide for the needs of the Church.
Our daily lives are busy with family, work and obligations. But these basic spiritual requirements can be viewed as a healthy antidote to the craziness of the world. The sacraments give us the opportunity to stop the chaos and rest in the love and mercy of Our Lord!
Copyright 2012 Judith Costello