Mass Attendance: A Wake-Up Call

Every Mass, we are given infinite riches, infinite treasure. Every Mass, we receive the One who is the source of every other good thing. Why not attend?

By Chris Sparks

The courage and strength that are in me are not of me, but of Him who lives in me — it is the Eucharist (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 91).

Folks, the Mass is the meeting place of Heaven and earth.

It’s where Jesus comes down from Heaven and unites Himself to us through the appearances of bread and wine.

It’s where the divine fire is distributed to all, where we rekindle the eternal life and love in our hearts, the assurance of our eternal life after death and the help for our salvation.

It’s where we are read to from the Word of God, where we are given the words to say to beg God’s forgiveness and mercy, where we praise Him on behalf of all creation, where we speak truth in a way that’s rare on this earth.

Bad news
I may not have to remind many of our regular readers of this, but clearly, we need to be reminding our fellow Catholics. A new study from the well-regarded Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has found that:

•    17 percent of adult Catholics attends Mass at least once a week.  Prior to the pandemic, 24 percent of Catholics attended Mass weekly in 2019. 
•    An additional 5 percent currently watch Mass on television or online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
•    18 percent of adult Catholics attends less than weekly but at least once a month. 
•    26 percent attends Mass a few times a year, likely on Ash Wednesday, Easter and/or Christmas. 
•    35 percent rarely or never attend Mass.

That’s stunning news. It’s a serious challenge to each and every Catholic to make sure we are taking part in the new evangelization, proclaiming the Gospel once again to our fellow Catholics who’ve fallen away or lapsed in their practice of the faith. 

We all need to be able to answer the question, “Why go to Mass?”

The answer
Why on earth wouldn’t you go to Mass? What could possibly keep you away from the marriage supper of the Lamb?

God is placed in your hands, or on your tongue — why would you skip that, unless you were ill, on the road away from a Mass, or legitimately, unavoidably detained by the duties of your state in life? What sports game, what brunch, what could be more important than receiving God?

Every Mass, we are given infinite riches, infinite treasure. Every Mass, we receive the One who is the source of every other good thing. Why not attend?

The Church in her pastoral wisdom makes Mass an obligation because she knows that we tend to forget the gifts. It’s easy to overlook God, hidden under the appearances of bread and wine, rather as it’s easy for us to ignore or neglect God in the distressing disguise of the poor. The Church gives us obligations to help bring us to the gifts, to the fountain of everlasting life, just as a coach prescribes a diet and exercise plan for his athletes so that they will be able to do what they want to do. Health and strength are a gift; the disciplines attached to them are merely aids to receiving those gifts.

The Bread of the Strong
Come to Mass. Why not? Why on earth not, especially in these days of difficulty, where formerly easy things seem so hard? Our strength is in the Lord, but if we don’t go to Mass, we deprive ourselves of that strength.

Saint Faustina, whose feast we will celebrate on Oct. 5, knew this well. She wrote:

Every morning during meditation, I prepare myself for the whole day’s struggle. Holy Communion assures me that I will win the victory; and so it is. I fear the day when I do not receive Holy Communion. This Bread of the Strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and the courage to do whatever the Lord asks of me (Diary, 91). 

The world is not the way it was meant to be. We suffer the consequences of the sins of others as well as those of our own sins every day. The only help for that is grace. The source of all grace is Jesus Christ, and Jesus waits for us in every tabernacle, at every Mass. You can make life more bearable. You can become stronger, strong with the strength that sustains the cosmos, strong beyond the bounds of human nature, but only by cooperating with God, only by communion with Him, only by eating the bread of the strong.

Come to Mass!
Come to Mass. Be fed, healed, and strengthened, for the road is long, the days are dark, and the needs are beyond any of our merely human ability to supply.

Come to Mass. Eat at the table of the Lord. Worship the One who loves us all to life from moment to moment, and give thanks for the gifts He provides.

Come to Mass. Welcome grace, God, the angels and saints into your life. Renew your communion with the Mystical Body of Christ. Jesus is the Vine, and we are the branches, and if the branches don’t maintain communion with the Vine, we drop away, dead and fit only for burning.

Come to Mass. Bring your family. It’s the greatest gift you will ever be able to give them, short of Baptism.

Come to Mass. Love yourself, and come. Love your neighbor, and welcome them along with you.

Come to Mass. Come to Jesus. Come to Love and Life eternal.

Chris Sparks is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash.

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