Catholic Classroom: Why We Go to Mass
Question: Why do I have to go to Mass every Sunday?
According to the Precepts of the Catholic Church, Catholics are obligated to go to Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation. Failing to do so without a legitimate reason (such as illness) is a mortal sin. But why is important to go to Mass, and on the particular schedule that the Church prescribes?
Why Do We Go to Mass?
The Mass is the Divine Liturgy and our most important form of worship. During the Mass, we listen to the Word of God through the Scriptures and receive the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in the Eucharist. The priest, who acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), re-presents the eternal and perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The Mass is the only place this can happen. Since Jesus commanded us to break bread in remembrance of him (Luke 22:19), we are simply doing what he told us to do. Each Mass is not a new sacrifice of Jesus; rather, the Mass allows us to enter into Jesus’ one, perfect sacrifice.
Sometimes, people feel bored at Mass or think that they are not really getting anything out of it. Luckily, this does not have to be a permanent way of thinking. If you start to understand what the Mass really is, you can enter more fully into it and begin to see the beauty of attending. Even if you don’t like the priest’s homily, or the music is a little off-key, you are still participating in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus by attending the Mass in a way that is not possible anywhere else.
In the Ten Commandments, God tells us to keep the sabbath day holy (Exodus 20:8-11). For the Jews, this was Saturday. But after the Resurrection, which happened on Sunday, early Christians began keeping Sunday as the Sabbath. For this reason, we observe the Sabbath every week on Sunday, and we do that by going to Mass and resting from our labor. We additionally go to Mass on holy days of obligation to observe significant events in the Church.
Even if you have seen Mass as a chore up until now, take some time to reflect on what the Mass really means and why it is so important to us as Catholics. The obligation to go to Mass is not one to take lightly, but the obligation is not a threat or a punishment—it is an opportunity to enter into communion with one another and to worship God.