Thursday, December 18, 2014

Do I Have to Go?




"Mass is boring." "I don't get anything out of Mass — why should I go?" “Why can't I just pray alone?”

These are common feelings, especially among young people but among many adults as well. The great Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, when conducting a retreat for teenagers, once gave a talk on the meaning of the Mass. He said, "If you don't get anything out of Mass, it's because you don't bring the right expectations to it." The Mass is not entertainment, he said. It is worship of the God who made us and saves us. It is an opportunity to praise God and thank Him for all that He has done for us.

If we have a correct understanding of Mass, Bishop Sheen said, it will become more meaningful for us. We will want to go to Mass. We will understand why the Mass is God's precious gift to us, and we wouldn't think of refusing that gift.

The Eucharist is the lynchpin of this argument.  At the institution of the Mass Jesus said to “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).  Will you deny Him when He commands you to go and receive Him in the Eucharist.  Will you freely and willingly abstain from eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood as He commanded?

The Church is instituted by Christ (“and on this rock I will build my church” Matt 16:18).  And Christ gave this Church the authority to bind and loose on matters of faith and morals those who would follow Him in the faith (“whatever you [ie, the Apostles] bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven  Matt 18:18).  He told the apostles that those who won’t even listen to the Church that they are to be considered as pagans and tax-collectors (“If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax-collector.Matt 18:16-17), ie outside of the Church.  Therefore, it is a mortal sin to knowingly and freely ignore what the Church has bound.  And the Church has determined to be binding that of receiving Him as He commanded us, on a weekly basis.  At a minimum, to receive on the day of the week that He Rose from the dead, Sunday (or the Vigil Mass the night before).  To knowingly and freely reject or ignore this binding decree is to reject the authority of His Church, a grave sin.

We ought to go to Mass on a weekly basis not simply to avoid removing ourselves from the Body of Christ but for the much better reason to show our gratitude for what He has done for us.  Indeed, the word ‘Eucharist’ comes to us from the Greek. The earliest Christians called it ‘Eucharistia’ which means ‘Thanksgiving’.

The Mass is, in part, a meal.  At the consecration, the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.  Not just a symbol, but Jesus’ real flesh and real blood, under the appearance of bread and wine.  When we receive Holy Communion, we receive Jesus Himself.  He is real food for our soul.  He told us as much when He said: “I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:55-56)

To refuse reception of this greatest gift of Himself is to refuse Him.  Please, please, do not abstain from the greatest gift we can ever receive: The gift of God Himself in the flesh. 

 

God Bless
Nathan

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