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Benedictine College Mass with Archbishop Joseph Naumann.
Promote Sunday Mass.
Not daily Mass. Not Eucharistic Adoration. We love those and pray that they will increase a hundredfold. But not everyone will be called to those. Every Catholic is called to Sunday Mass, and making that commitment is not just sufficient — it is simple, doable … and transformative.
An individual or family who makes the commitment to never miss Sunday Mass will see their whole life change. They will go from being “Catholic-affiliated” to having a robust Catholic identity. The Sunday Mass commitment in itself will reorder their priorities such that they aren’t living according to what they think best, but according to what God thinks best.
During this Fortnight for Freedom, why not make the commitment to invite someone back to Sunday Mass? One good way is to combine it with something else: Mass and brunch, Mass and lunch, Mass and a visit to a museum.
Here are some talking points about why Mass is important.
This is the most important reason, of course. We owe God a debt of gratitude for creating us, redeeming us and giving us every single thing we have. The least we can do is “Make Holy the Sabbath Day” as the Third Commandment has it.
But Pope Benedict XVI likes to stress that this debt of gratitude isn’t just the dutiful fulfillment of a rule — it is an “inner necessity.” He loves to mention the cry of the early Christian martyrs who died for honoring Sunday: “Without Sunday we cannot live.”
Those who return to Sunday Mass and that weekly connection with God will start to see what he means, and wonder how they ever lived without it.
Everyone is going in different directions throughout the week. Even families who want to eat together often find that they can’t, because of work, school, sports and activities. It is easy to free up an hour on Sunday or Saturday afternoon to go to Mass, however.
Families who go to Sunday Mass always remember this special time that they spend together, for a purpose. As Pope Benedict XVI put it: “Please, go with your children to church and take part in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration! You will see that this is not time lost; rather, it is the very thing that can keep your family truly united and centered.”
We have all heard stories of people whose lives were changed by Scripture. The Word of God has a power that cannot be underestimated.
Archbishop Charles Chaput tells the story of an actor who had to play a pagan Roman. In researching the role, he was shocked by the routine brutality of pre-Christian Rome. It made him realize how many of the virtues of fairness, tolerance, kindness and aid our society takes for granted come from the Christian faith.
Our own lives would be utterly different if we had no exposure to the Scriptures … and they will be even better the more exposure we get. You get three Scripture readings at each Mass. They will transform our lives as surely as they transformed our society.
Even if during certain periods of our life it seems that we are getting nothing out of Mass, our going every Sunday still helps lots of other people.
Our children will be formed by what we do. The excuses we make to skip Mass will become the bedrock principles of their faith. Our insistence that we always go will usually rub off on them, too (sooner or later).
But a lot of other people will be helped by our Mass attendance. I have heard many stories of people who said they returned to Mass because they kept noticing that their neighbor always went, or because they drove by the church and saw someone they could identify with walking in the doorway.
And the other people at Sunday Mass need encouragement, too. It will help us to see you there with us.
Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. No, you don’t see and talk to him in human form, but you are definitely there with him. And that’s enough.
People often tell stories about being near the “real presence” of significant people. If you say “I saw the Pope,” people ask, “How close did you get?” My mother stood next to Paul McCartney at a store, and that alone was unforgettable.
That’s because, as married couples know, just being there together — with or without words — is powerful all on its own. Jesus Christ himself is at every Mass. And we get to be there with him. You don’t want to miss that.
Imagine you were in a battle, and a grenade rolled up to you. Imagine a friend threw himself on the grenade, and just before dying for you, said “Remember me every Sunday!”
You can bet you would make sure that, no matter what, you would remember that friend every Sunday.
Jesus did exactly that, offering himself as a sacrifice for us on the night before he died. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he said. Then he took our punishment for us in his death on the cross, so we wouldn’t have to. You want to stay close to a friend like that.
What people say is absolutely true: Often, we can feel much closer to God out in the great outdoors than we do at Mass.
But there are two things to remember: First, these “moments of natural grace” are rare and unpredictable. We can’t schedule them very easily. Second, awe at Christ’s real presence beats the awe of nature any day. But it takes more time to train ourselves to appreciate it. We can train every Sunday.
So there you have it: Seven tips for promoting Sunday Mass. Tune in tomorrow for a necessary corollary: Seven ways to promote Confession. Keep praying — and acting — for religious freedom.