Going to Mass every Sunday can be a daunting concept. However, it may be more worth your while than you think. Take a good look through these top 10 reasons to attend the Holy Mass, and then see if you can hold yourself back.
10) Live Music
Okay, this is not the focus of the Mass. It does, however, help us focus on the Mass. Plus, the Mass contains songs with lyrics consisting of prayers that have been perfected through the ages, which make them the most perfect songs to sing. If it took Aretha Franklin only a day to write “Respect,” then how much more wonderful is it to sing lyrics that Christians have spent centuries developing?
When you go to Mass, keep in mind that God loves everyone’s voice no matter how bad or good you may think it is. He just wants you to sing His praise and is greatly pleased by your efforts, so go for it!
9) It’s Peaceful
With the hustle and bustle of college life keeping your head spinning on its end for hours and hours each day, an hour spent in a sanctuary of peace is a wonderful thing. Allow yourself to be immersed in the beauty and grandeur, and let your worries disappear for a while.
8) Because you can
As a Catholic, or even if you aren’t, you are able to go to Mass anywhere in the world whenever it is held, no RSVP required, knowing that you have received a distinguished invitation from Jesus Christ Himself.
This means that when you are at home with your parents, you can attend your home parish. When you are at school, you can go to any Catholic church nearby. When you are on vacation for winter break in Cancun, Mexico, feel free to join the locals for a Spanish Mass. When you are studying abroad in France, go ahead and “aller à La Messe” every Sunday or every day.
The Mass is essentially the same throughout the entire world, so even if you can’t understand the language, you should be able to follow what’s going on. Most importantly, the Eucharist is the same Body and Blood of Jesus in Madison, WI as it is in Paris, France, and as it is in Heaven.
In Madison, you don’t even have to get up early. Mass on campus is at 10:30 am, 6 pm, and even 9 pm, not to mention the other nearby parishes’ times listed here.
If you are away from where you would usually attend Mass, check out this website to find a church near you.
When you are sitting in a lecture, mostly everyone is there for the same reason: to learn. When you are sitting in the dining hall, mostly everyone is there to eat. These are your learning and eating communities. You probably have many more. However, you need a spiritual community. When you are at Mass, mostly everyone is there to worship God and to grow in holiness. We were made to be social beings, to come together as a community.
Just as we wouldn’t do as well in school without classmates to help us, friends to hold us accountable, and professors to answer our questions, we might not do as well in our spiritual life without a faith community to help us, hold us accountable, and answer our questions. However, unlike the lecture hall, the church offers something additional to community: Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I” (Matthew 18:20). Our Lord will be present to guide us when we gather for Mass, because it is done in His name.
6) The great potential of your existence can be truly revealed
If you had the choice of watching your dreams about fantasy situations or going somewhere that helps you discover the purpose of life, which would you choose? At Mass, you have the opportunity to experience eye-opening beauty and liberation. It wouldn’t be a Wisconsin, Forward way of thinking to pass this up. Listen to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on this one:
“Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? . . . No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen.”
5) Trust = Freedom = Less Stress
Sometimes the idea of spending an entire hour sitting in a church can be daunting. You could finish two whole pages of that Physch essay due Monday, or like a quarter of that engineering problem set that was assigned last week, right? Not only would you not be getting any school work done, but the Packers play at 7 pm, and you don’t want to miss the kickoff or 4th quarter if you go to 6 pm or 9 pm Mass, and that party Saturday night went way too late, so there’s no possibility of waking up before 11 am.
That sounds about right, yes? Well, there is another way to think about all of that. What if you go to Mass, and then let God help you to find all of the best resources to write your Psych paper, to reason through that problem set with clarity of mind, to understand that God’s favorite football team won the Super Bowl even in the wild card position, and to grow in prudence to make better decisions about staying up late.
Making the commitment to honor God by setting aside an entire hour of time for Him no matter how much homework you have or exams you have in any given week is a huge step in learning to trust in His infinite all-knowing, forever-loving nature. Having the fullness of this trust means that you would no longer have to worry about your grades, you future career, the Badgers’ Rose Bowl prospects, or what you will have to eat the next day. Not that you won’t care about these things; you just won’t be preoccupied with the stress that comes from worrying, knowing that your life is best placed in God’s hands.
4) Mass will change your heart
The Mass gets you ready for heaven. “Mass is like a Chevy truck. Even if you get in the truck and fall asleep, the truck will plow through everything in its path and bring you farther along. As long as you show up for Mass, even if you are very distracted, it will bring you closer to God. You don’t even need to know the directions.”
In a culture that encourages indifference and strips down our defenses, going to Mass, listening to the readings and homilies, and receiving the Eucharist can make you different by cultivating truths within you that allow you to stand for what’s right. To sin is to deny the duty of love. We are called not just to tolerate, but to love, for whatever we do or don’t do unto others we do unto Christ Jesus (Matthew 25:40, 45).
3) It’s the law
Just as the Apostles did (Acts 2:42), and the Church has been doing for two millenniums (Didache XIV), we are called to participate in the Mass each Sunday. Something as great as the Mass didn’t have to be given to us, but it was given out of great love, so that the incarnation would be constantly re-presented to us.
Intentionally missing Mass for no good reason (explained later*) is a grave matter, which means that doing so is a mortal sin when combined with full consent of the will and with full knowledge of the sinful character of doing so.
Other denominations don’t have that “rule,” so why do we?
Well, let’s think this through:
- If you truly believe in God, then by definition, He should be at the top of your list of importance.
- If God, who is Jesus, and who is most important, is providing His Body and Blood for you at the Mass, then it only makes sense that you would passionately accept the offer and attend.
- If you recognize that Jesus wants you to set your time aside and follow Him into the church, and you blatantly deny that offer, then you are telling God, “Hey, I know you’re God and all, but today I think you aren’t as important as sleeping in for the morning, studying for my o-chem quiz in the evening, and then going out for some Babcock ice cream at 9 pm. I know what’s best.” (P.S.: If you love o-chem more than God, you may want to re-evaluate some things and check on your sanity.)
- This is a denial of God, an action that says, “I don’t want your sacrifice. I don’t want your love and mercy. I don’t want your redemption. I have other idols to worship.” Such an action would go against the first of the Ten Commandments.
*Acceptable reasons for missing Mass would be particular illnesses or transportation situations which prevent you from making it there. However, feigning ignorance about your situation is worse.
With this knowledge in mind, it is very important to understand that Sunday is not meant to be a mandatory day that we grudgingly go to Church. The purpose of the Mass is to give us the perfect opportunity to come into closer relationship with Jesus Christ.
A better explanation of this obligation can be found here.
2) It’s absolutely important
We can split everything into groups of things that have relative importance and into those that have absolute importance. It’s important (absolutely) to understand this, because your understanding of truth depends on it.
Relatively important things might only be important for some people or for the time being. For example, take studying for your final exams: It’s not important for your younger brother to study for your final exams, and once you turn in your Scantrons or Bluebooks, it will no longer be important for you, either. Another thing could arise, such as a family emergency, which should make sense to be more important for you at the time.
Absolutely important things are important for everybody at all times. For this example, imagine a colossal asteroid is predicted to destroy the world two days from now. This would become of absolute importance to everyone on Earth. For students to be more concerned about the following finals week would not make sense, and neither would logic validate the worrying about the health of an ill pet fish. Your race, gender, income bracket, occupation, or relationship status does not affect what is absolutely important, because those things put all items of relative importance into perspective.
If Jesus Christ died and rose on the third day, then that fact is absolutely important. If it’s true, then nobody’s life is an accident or by chance, suffering has meaning, and death is not the end. If it’s true, then everything we do and every decision we make should be oriented toward God (Colossians 3:17). Thankfully, it is true, and in this way, the Mass has importance of the absolute kind.
1) Jesus is there
What’s in your apartment refrigerator? Some moldy cheese.
What’s in your dorm? Your smelly roommate.
What’s in the library? Books and the prospect of studying them.
What’s in the church’s tabernacle? Jesus Christ and His promise of eternal life. Boom.
That’s right, Jesus Christ, who promised 2,000 years ago that He would always be with us as the Bread of Life (John 6:22-59) is waiting for you to come into the doors of a Catholic church to participate in His everlasting sacrifice at the Mass (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
And since Jesus welcomes everybody, your smelly roommate can come with you. Just leave the moldy cheese at home.