Dear Friends in Christ,
The Third Principle of Evangelical Catholicism states that “The seven Sacraments of the New Covenant are divinely instituted instruments of grace given to the Church as the ordinary means of sanctification for believers. Receiving the Sacraments regularly and worthily is essential to the life of grace, and for this reason, faithful attendance at Sunday Mass every week (serious illness and necessary work aside) and regular Confession of sins are absolutely required for a life of authentic discipleship.”
In the first chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul teaches us that we exist to live for the praise of God’s glory. This is a bold claim! If we exist to praise God, then until we worship Him according to the eternal plan of salvation revealed in Jesus Christ, we are not yet living a whole or a holy human life. In other words, a person who does give thanks to God each week in the Most Holy Eucharist does not yet fully understand why he exists or how to find his eternal destiny. From the creation of the world, the Seventh Day was set aside for us from ordinary occupations so that we could share in the covenantal worship which completes and perfects our humanity, and the Passover meal of Israel was set by God as a perpetual remembrance of their deliverance from slavery so that they would never return to the condition of slaves. In his passion, death, and Resurrection, the Lord Jesus transformed the Passover of the Old Covenant into the Eucharist of the New and Everlasting Covenant, and for Christians the observance of the Sabbath moved to the Day of Resurrection, the Lord’s Day on which we share each week in the Passover of the Lamb of God. But if all this true, why do so many Catholics not attend Mass every Sunday?
I don’t get anything out of it. It’s boring. I don’t like the music. These are among the answers typically offered by non-practicing Catholics when asked why they don’t attend Mass each Sunday. But those answers reveal a much deeper problem. People who don’t attend Mass because “they don’t get anything out of it” are revealing that they are not yet authentic disciples of the Lord Jesus who understand the cost of discipleship. We are not called to Mass to get anything; we are called to Mass to give something. In fact, we are called to give everything. We must offer our whole lives as a sacrifice of praise in and with the sacrifice of Christ, and in so doing we fulfill the command of the Lord Jesus given at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.” And when once we have learned to worship God in this fashion, then we find that we do receive something. We receive divine mercy, the forgiveness of our sins, the light of the Gospel to illuminate the mysteries of life, the strength to take up our cross and follow Christ, and the nourishment of the Body and Blood of Christ which is the pledge of eternal life and the medicine of immortality. And going to Confession whenever needed is Christ’s Easter gift to the Church and an essential preparation for our worthy participation in the Eucharist. Since we exist for the praise of God’s glory, let’s use the tools He himself has given us to worship Him in spirit and truth.