1. Jesus is inviting us to Mass
The most fundamental reason to come to Mass is that Jesus is inviting each of us. In St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he writes that Jesus:
On the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:23-24)
These words reveal what has been the practice of the Church since its beginning: to celebrate the Mass in fulfilment of Christ’s words at the Last Supper.
The Catechism explains that: “We carry out this command of the Lord by celebrating the memorial of his sacrifice.” (CCC 1357) The Mass is where Christ asked his followers to meet him, and even today the Mass is where we find him.
2. Going to Mass deepens our faith in Jesus and friendship with Him
The much-loved Catholic author, J.R.R.Tolkien said “The only cure for sagging or fainting faith is Communion.” This word, Communion, means a profound union with Christ, specifically in the Eucharist.
In every Mass, Jesus is revealed: first in the Word of God, proclaimed through the Bible readings, and then on the altar in the consecrated bread and wine. Because Jesus is truly present at the
Mass, this is where we go to form and deepen our faith and friendship with Christ. There is no requirement to already have a deep faith or to feel close friendship with Christ in order to go to Mass. Rather, faith and friendship with God are what we hope to gain through going each week.
3. Because virtual is no replacement for the real thing
Live-streamed Masses nourish the faith of those who are simply unable to attend in person. However, virtual Masses are no substitute for being physically present. We all know from the experience of being separated from our loved ones that meeting on a screen is not the same as being together in the same place.
Jesus Christ is God Incarnate: God made flesh. Jesus came to earth as a man in order to be physically close to us. All of the sacraments through which the Church continues the ministry of Christ involve physical signs – sprinkling with water, anointing with oil, consuming bread and wine, the laying on of hands – and therefore real, not virtual or metaphorical, presence.
In the Mass, God becomes really present through those who gather, through His spoken Word, through the priest acting in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), and in the Eucharist. A virtual Mass can be a powerful aid to us in making a spiritual communion when illness or grave obligations prevent our being at church, but it is not the same as being both spiritually and physically present to God in the same place where he becomes sacramentally present to us.
4. Because going to Mass helps us grow in humility
Some people worry they aren’t holy enough to go Mass; some think they don’t need Mass to be holy. But there is an old saying: ‘the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a club for saints.’ If the Church is a hospital, the Mass is her medicine. During the penitential rite at the beginning of every Mass, all those gathered proclaim publicly that they are sinners in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. We pray: “I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have greatly sinned”. Then we ask Our Lady, all the angels and saints, and everyone present to pray for us to God.
The Mass reveals and offers God’s mercy to sinners. If we come to Mass like the blind man at Bethsaida, crying Kyrie eleison! (Lord have mercy!), we will grow in humility, recognises that
we are in need of help, find the source of that help, and grow in holiness, which is intimacy with God. We cannot heal ourselves, but we can come to Mass and be healed.
5. Because going to Mass deepens our sense of mission
Mission is at the heart of the Mass. The English word ‘Mass’ is missa in Latin, which comes from missio, meaning ‘mission’ or ‘sending’. In the Mass we encounter God. No one in the Bible has ever encountered God without then being sent on mission. Think of Abraham (Gen 12:1-4), Moses (Ex 3:1-12), Isaiah (Is 6:1-13), Peter (Mt 4:18-20) and Paul (Acts 9:3-6). After we have received the Lord and have given thanks, we are blessed and sent on mission to live and proclaim the Gospel we have heard, sharing with everyone we encounter what has been given to us in the Mass.
This blog is extracted from our leaflet Why Should I Go to Mass on Sunday? The Church teaches that attending Mass on Sundays is a solemn duty of all Catholics. This leaflet offers five reasons to come to Mass.
To read the full text of the leaflet, to share its message with others, and to support the mission of CTS, order your pack of Why Should I Go to Mass on Sunday? leaflets today.