Why going to Mass is worth the effort

Getting to Mass on Sundays feels optional to many families. After all, if we don’t show up for work, we may lose our job; if our children miss school, they’ll have make-up work; skipping a practice means you don’t play in a game. But missing Mass? Will anyone even notice? Is there a consequence?

Since the very early years of our church, Christians have gathered on the Lord’s day, Sunday (which early on was a workday), to praise God. Attending was never optional; members were expected to be there, but they also wanted to be there, to have the privilege of participating that Baptism gave them.

Today the church teaches that attending Mass is so important that we look upon it as an obligation for Catholics, barring a grave cause for absence (illness, for example).

But why? Shouldn’t we go to church because we want to, not because we have to? Continue reading

Don’t skip meals, especially Sunday Mass

Most nights, our family of six eats dinner together. It’s rarely a Norman Rockwell scene. Jamie, 6, sometimes chews with her mouth open just to get a rise out of her sister Teenasia, 7. Fourteen-year-old Jacob too often acts as the fact-checker for 11-year-old Liam’s stories.

Almost once a week we run out of salad dressing, and lately I’ve been forgetting to set the timer for the dinner rolls, and we’ve had to cut off the blackened, Frisbee-like bottoms.

Despite our nonperfect dinners, we come together each night anyway. While I may routinely ruin dinner rolls, I’m pretty good at spinach fettuccini. And when Jacob can hold back from correcting Liam, he finds his brother tells an entertaining tale. Bill and I recognize that a meal doesn’t need to be perfect to be nourishing.

So it is with Sunday Mass. The Eucharist is a family meal. And even when the Mass isn’t perfect, it still nourishes us. Like the family meals around our own kitchen table, we go to church because we know it’s good for us—we come because it will fill us and keep us spiritually healthy.

Take a look at the common excuses we may find not to attend Sunday Mass regularly, and watch what happens when we apply them to family dinners. Continue reading