I am currently leading a book discussion at my Parish. The book is “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist”, by Doctor Brant Pitre. That is right, a Doctor of Scripture and theology, someone who is an expert, or as close to one as any of us will ever get on the subject of Scripture, the Bible and Faith. The funny thing is, we all have the opportunity and the potential to become experts at our Faith, don’t we? How many of us though, don’t make time for this? How many of us would rather read a book or attend gatherings on topics very questionable for the health and well-being of our souls; for the sake of entertainment? Why do we fill our heads and spirits with meaningless words and fail to seek out a more intellectual and spiritual nourishment and growth? There are so many resources available that will nurture our souls with a much more effectual benefit. We should be striving for the knowledge that will grow our Faith, because as we get to know our Creator, the more capable and better we are of loving him, and opening ourselves to his love for us. The best way to grow in our knowledge and Faith is going to Mass.
To me, the most evident example of our ignorance of and distraction from Faith and God, is our low numbers and indifference to the miracle of the Mass. The low percentage of Catholics attending Mass is the true testimony of our lack of appreciation for a Savior that gave everything that he is to us. The estimate is that only 36 percent of Catholics attend weekly Mass in the United States. Interestingly, these non-practicing people still identify themselves as Catholic, even though they ignore the most very basic teachings and requirements of the Church. I myself find that very curious. It seems that many Catholics don't take the Church seriously, and that means, they don't take Christ seriously. Christ after all, is the head of the Church.
“Unfortunately, many modern readers are only vaguely familiar with Jewish beliefs regarding the coming of the Messiah. In fact, a good deal of what most Christian readers have learned about Jewish messianic ideas is often oversimplified, riddled with exaggerations, and even downright false.” Brant Pitre, page 21, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist.
Downright false is the accusation, but he is so right. Truly, if we really understand the miracle of the Eucharist, how can we stay away? How can we not anticipate with joy and excitement the liturgical celebration that extends to us the privilege to attend on a weekly, and even daily basis. If we are Catholic, and belong to the one true Faith delivered from Heaven and made evident daily in the breaking of Bread from Heaven, how can we defy and dare to miss a Sunday Mass. Are we not arrogant and irreverent at the very least when we decide that we get nothing from such an experience? And how could we ever make such a claim truly knowing what waits for us in the Eucharist? How can anyone not get “something” from receiving into their very being the Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and Creator of Everything! The Creator of Everything wants to become a physical presence in our very beings, and we have bigger and more important priorities? Really? Mass is offered several times on Sundays, at various locations for many of us, from the wee hours of the morning on Sunday or Sunday evenings, and even a vigil Mass on Saturday evenings. The Church affords us so many opportunities to attend Mass, because God mandates our presence on a weekly basis. This is not because God needs us, he needs none of us, but we need Mass, and he knows it. We need God desperately. It seems though that even the requirements and mandates don’t get many of us to Mass. This is very sad, and very fatal. You see, the Eucharist keeps our Souls alive and united with Christ. Without this spiritual food, our Spirits will wither. We will not live to our fullest Spiritual potential, and we will lack a joy that can make our lives amazing, even amid suffering.
“Year after year, generation after generation, countless Israelites abandoned the Mosaic covenant by going after other gods and entering into covenants with them instead.” Dr. Brant Pitre, page 30, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. Back then, it was a golden calf, today it is us, worshiping our attendance at football games, and offering our time and attention up to the attainment of success and wealth, and the accumulation of material objects. It really is no different.. All those things that we place before God, will leave us unsatisfied, unfulfilled and spiritually empty. We can try to fill that longing in our heart for God with everything else in this world, and nothing will ever satisfy it. It is a longing that was built inside our hearts, because we were made by God, for God; and so without God, we will never be whole.
Stop ignoring the pleas and the dictates of the Church. The Church enforces these rules for your own good and health. Go to Mass, enter into the most fulfilling and satisfying relationship you will ever have here on Earth, and for Eternity. It really is about being one with God for all of Eternity anyway. Go, get a glimpse of what that Eternity will be like. Maybe, if we find that Mass isn’t for us, Heaven isn’t either. If you truly understand the Mass, you know that we go to Heaven every time we engage in this celebration. We have such hopes that our loved ones gone before us are in Heaven, and we lament how much we miss them, but at Mass, we are with them in a Heavenly Banquet that spans time, space and the spasm of Heaven and Earth. We have the ability to go to Heaven all the time, every time we attend Mass.