Four Things the Church is Serious About, Part 1:
The Church is Serious about Mass on Sunday
Our Elders were taught that missing Mass on Sunday was a mortal sin. Published in 1994 and updated in 1997, the new Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2181 says:
“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation…. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”
(Deliberately means you could have gone but chose not to attend. Sickness, bad weather, travel or family emergencies excuse you. And Saturday night counts as Sunday Mass.)
Why this rule?
Though our Elders learned the rules, they were rarely taught why. Sunday is the day of the Resurrection: Jesus rose from the Dead on Sunday. From the very first centuries down to our own day, Christians throughout the entire world gather on Sunday to “do this in memory of me.” God sets a feast for His people, at which Our risen Lord Jesus is both the host and the banquet. The King of Kings and the Lord of the Universe journeys from Heaven become present in our on our humble altar in our little church in our little town. He comes to dwell within you; to enter the temple of your body.You can see why, when Our Lord makes such a long journey to be with us, that it might offend Him if we choose not to make the short journey to meet him. Each Sunday we face the question: Is Jesus really the most important thing in your life? Or is it football, shopping, camping, a family reunion, wrestling…. God has gathered His holy people from all over the world to feed them. Choosing not to be here says, “I’m not one of His people; I’m opting out of the Resurrection; Other things are more important to me than my relationship with God.”The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent reminds us: Man does not live on bread alone. What makes us want to live? Jesus gives us the answer in the next temptation, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” We find out true dignity and purpose in worshipping God. Mass can be boring, and you may have many other legitimate complaints: the priest is long-winded, the music is bad, the people aren’t welcoming, it’s hot, it’s cold… All those things may be true. But are you coming to Mass expecting God to serve you, or are you coming to worship and serve God?
So many people are spiritually starving. They eat plenty of food and they drink enough (or too much), but they are never satisfied. Studies have shown that people who regularly attend services at their local church report being happier than those who do not. You feel good afterwards. You leave with a sense of peace and well-being. All these are signs that you are in the right place, doing the right thing, getting spiritually satisfied. We need Sunday Mass more than we realize. For all these reasons, the Church is serious about Mass on Sunday.
Frequent Church-Goers Are Happier
Those who attend religious services weekly or more often are happier than are those attending less often. Those who seldom or never attend services are the least likely to say they are very happy.
Catholics Who Attend Church More Frequently Are Happier
Catholics who attend church at least weekly are more likely to be very happy than are Catholics who attend services less often. This association between church attendance and happiness also occurs among other religious groups surveyed.