There are all sorts of things we could tell you about why the Mass matters. There is theology about why you need to go to Church. There is a deep spiritual tradition about what the Mass can provide.
But we also know that nobody-not even the writers and editors at Busted Halo-are going to go to Mass unless it does something for them. So, here are the five things Mass can do for you, which also explain why Mass matters:
Check out number four in “Five Ways to Think About the Mass.” Mass gives you access to a large group of people with similar goals, desires, and concerns. It also provides you, through the Eucharist, with the community of the entire Body of Christ. If you’re not getting a sense of community during Mass at the Church you attend, seek it out! Talk to the other folks there. Ask questions of the parish priest. If that still doesn’t work, then try a Mass offered at a different time. Or, if you feel you need to seek out a different place to celebrate Mass, try our Church Search to locate a parish in your area that might offer a different sense of community.
The Mass provides us with a sense of why we are here, namely to love and serve the Lord and one another (the closing line of the Mass). The Mass not only gives us a sense of what we ought to do; it also provides us with the sense of how we are going to do it. We are alive for these reasons, our community at the Mass tells us, and those reasons-loving people and loving God-seem pretty good. Perhaps more importantly, though, the Mass is an end in itself providing us with the meaning of Christ’s turning bread into his very own flesh, and of our own participation in that process. Mass means so much only if we allow it to: if we’d like, though, it is a chance to participate in the greatest miracle in the world every week: information for our own lives can only come after we have the assurance from God, even from ourselves, that he is alive, and that He-via prayer and, hopefully Mass, is in ready relationship with us.
We remember Christ, who Christians believe was not only God but also the greatest man who ever lived. He is a man, a friend, worth remembering, and his message is even more important. There are far worse people to remember and imitate each week.
If you do the Mass right, you can’t leave each day without being at least somewhat changed. Listen to Christ in the Gospel! Hear the voice of Jesus in the liturgical sections! There is a radical change here being proposed, and it’s open to any Catholic who wants it. How are you supposed to act with the presence of Christ within you? How will you go on acting if you make sure to consume that Eucharist every week?
5. Joy and Peace
Everyone is looking for joy and peace. The Mass can’t give it to you; only God can. But God can provide his own joy and peace through Mass in a way that you can’t get anywhere else. Trust in the power of the Eucharist, in the power of the gathered community, and in your own power to listen to hear Christ’s radical message, to feel his real presence in your gut, to let yourself sing as loudly as you can during the Communion Song, and then to be absolutely quiet in the period after Mass, letting yourself sit, just once a week, with the God who is Love. Trust that this will bring you joy and peace. And if it does not, trust that it just might-next week.