By Alexander Elfreich
“Do I HAVE to go to Mass every Sunday?”
Kids say it. Adults say it. Maybe you’ve said it too.
The short answer to that question (surprise) is “Yes.” But I don’t want to leave it at that. After all, Catholics deserve good answers to why they’re supposed to do things.
So here are three reasons why Catholics should go to Mass every Sunday.
1. God tells you to.
Well that’s not very inspiring, huh? God says it, so do it.
But actually, we’re not talking about slavish obedience.
Whenever God commands something, He wants to make you happy. It’s true. When you follow God’s commandments, you form habits that will make you truly happy.
That includes going to Mass on Sunday. When you go to Mass, you receive tons of graces to help you tackle daily stress, conquer your vices, and grow closer to God.
Those graces come from the Eucharist.
The Catholic Church calls the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life.” When we receive the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Himself. What an incredible gift!
2. You’re wired for it.
As a human being, you’re made for community. That goes for everyone, even the most antisocial among us. We all need a connection with others. It’s how God created us.
Plus, as a Catholic, you’re baptized. And that means you’re a member of the Body of Christ. So you’re meant to know and love God not just by yourself, but together with the whole Body of Christ.
That’s where the Mass comes in.
The word “Church” comes from the Greek word “ecclesia” meaning an assembly or a people called by God. Every Sunday, the Body of Christ, called by God and redeemed in Christ, joins together in the Mass. We pray together. We listen to the Word of God together. We receive the Eucharist together.
But what does that mean for you personally? When you participate at Mass, you focus your mind and your heart on God. Just doing that for one hour makes a HUGE difference in your life. You become the kind of person God made you to be.
3. The Mass gets you ready for Heaven.
Ever have to stay with a relative or friend for an extended time? It’s hard to live in someone else’s house under a different daily routine. It never totally feels like home.
When you show up at the pearly gates someday, it’s supposed to feel like coming home. But depending on how you lived your life on Earth, it may feel like trying to live in someone else’s house.
That’s why we have Purgatory (more on that here), but it’s also why we go to Mass.
St. John Henry Newman once gave a brilliant sermon about this. He said that going to church prepares us for the “future glorious and most wonderful destiny, the sight of God,—a destiny which, if not most glorious, will be most terrible.”
His point: we’re all going to meet God face-to-face someday, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Going to Mass prepares you to meet God with joy and not with terror. You might say it makes you “fit for Heaven.”
At Mass, you get a taste of what Heaven is like.
Now don’t panic — Heaven won’t be an eternity of screeching babies and that hymn you hate. What Heaven will be, though, is all the angels and saints praising God and basking in His sheer glory. And at every single Mass, you get to join in that. You sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” together with the angels and saints. You hear the Word of God spoken to you. You receive Christ in the Eucharist.
In fact, everything you do at Mass, the standing, the kneeling, the responses (and yes, even the singing) are like spiritual exercises that make your soul ready for a glorious life in Heaven.
Get to know the Mass!
I’ve only scratched the surface on what makes the Mass so special. For Catholics, going to Mass on Sunday is not so much an obligation but an incredible gift.
Want to learn more about the significance and the symbolism of the Catholic Mass? I recommend starting with one of these three books.
Alexander Elfreich is a writer and editor from Toledo, Ohio. He holds a BA in English and an MA in Catholic Studies. He loves to read, cook, play guitar, and wander through used bookstores.