So, the other day I had an interesting conversation with a friend, she was claiming that it is good when people attend Mass, even if they are attending for the wrong reasons - referring to a group of people who I can totally relate to since before my reversion about 10 years ago, I was one of them. I sang in the choir for 30 years before I was able to respond to the Graces God was pouring down on me and experienced a reversion to the faith that literally has rocked my world.
Before my reversion and then immersion into our awesome faith, I would have wholeheartedly agreed that it is better for people to go to Mass even if they are there for the songs and for the part they play and "perform" in the Mass. I spent decades playing this part at Mass, being a choir member and cantor, and during all those years i didn't grow in relationship with Christ at all, as a matter of fact I was living a pretty unholy life, and in pretty unholy ways, very sinful ways actually. Yet I was at Mass every Sunday, to sing. ,During most of these years our director taught us that Hell and Satan were not real, and we even sang a song referring to God as mother, and "her" and "she". As stated, during these many years I was not living a Catholic life. I was not in a state of Grace but still received our Lord every Sunday, and I was rejecting many teachings of the Church. I was a pretty bad Catholic. Hey, I was there at Mass though every Sunday, singing in the Choir, and I was there for the music and that singing. I was not there for the Lord. Honestly, I am not even sure I loved the Lord all that much. I was way to busy loving myself, and living a life that made me happy, or so I thought. I had convinced myself that I was a good Catholic, devout, because I was at Mass, but my heart really wasn't at Mass. And I realize now, that was a huge problem, a problem shared with many and it only leads us into deeper apathy and spiritual sloth and poverty.
Our Lord has standards and expectations, and they are pretty high standards and expectations. Let's see, he calls us to love him above everything and everyone else, he also calls us to be perfect. Right worship, not wrong and self worship is what he expects and demands. Neglecting this, is detrimental to our salvation. Can you imagine going into work on a Monday morning and telling your boss that he should just be happy you showed and were there. That you weren't going to do anything he wanted or expected but hey, you're there, so he just needs to be happy about that. I am pretty sure that wouldn't go over so well. I am pretty sure most of us would think this is not acceptable and even a bit ridiculous example, but is it really? Isn't that exactly what we do, when we go to Mass because we like the music, or even the preaching, or the socializing we engage in before and after, and even sometimes during the Mass. So, why would we find this not acceptable in the workplace, but a-okay for Mass. Isn't pleasing God, our Father, way more important than pleasing a boss? And if you say, yes, but God understands us and is merciful and loving, and so he forgives us this sinfulness - well you are right, he does. But there are consequences. Why is it okay to treat God like a doormat. Why would want to take advantage of his mercy and love - well, if we do this, it is because we truly don't love him. What we love is ourselves. This is far more common than any of us what to admit, and it is truly sad. It makes me feel heartbroken for God. We treat Him so horribly and then expect to walk right into Heaven on our own terms and according to our own expectations, and my brothers and sisters, it just doesn't work that way. Those of us who think it does, will fall short, and are in real jeopardy of even making it to Heaven.
If we are going to Mass for any other reason than to praise, thank, adore and worship God, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. We are also jeopardizing our salvation and scandalizing the faithful. Is is apparent to me now and so obvious how destructive and self absorbed that mode of thinking and living is. When we go to Mass for our own self indulgence, then we are actually there to adore, praise and worship ourselves. This is idolatry. Is a very serious and grave sin, and leads us to lives of misery and loneliness. Having our lives and our worship in right order is the only way to happiness on this earth and in eternity. Having our lives in right order - with God as the first and foremost priority, will lead us to approach everyone and everything else in right order and in right priority. We are what we worship. So, if we go to Mass to worship and focus on something other than God, then we are just perpetuating a problem of disorder in our lives and in our hearts. The more we do this, the worse it will get and the bigger the hole we will need to one day climb out of. If we do this enough, the hole may become to big to escape from - this would be the worst tragedy of all.
Let's not offer others these types of excuses to use. We need to approach God in the Mass with the upmost reverence, respect, holy fear and awe possible. He is after all, the creator of EVERYTHING! If we go for the music and worship that, we are worshipping the created instead of the one who created. If we go for the socializing with others, again we are worshiping that instead of the creator. It's not a good thing.
Now, let's address the even more egregious sin taking place in these kinds of circumstances, and that is how are we, when attending Mass for the wrong reasons approaching our Lord - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist. St. Paul is very explicit when he addressed those receiving our Lord in a state of unworthiness. They are condemning themselves. This is straight from Scripture. Being ignorant of the faith and this teaching is willful. There are so many resources out there for us to come to know the Faith. Again, if learning the Faith and pursuing a relationship that is in right order with our Lord is not a priority, then nothing in our lives will be in right order or right priority.
So, think about it. This is really important stuff. Don't be prompted into a lukewarm attitude or relationship with God because there are shinier distractions that appear more desirable. There is nothing more desirable than God, and once we realize this, there is really nothing that will hold us back from His pursuit. It takes effort, it must be priority, we must make Him the center and focus of our lives. There is nothing more important than God, nothing. Once we embrace this - everything becomes different, and better. It might not make us happy all the time, but it should cause us joy always, and hope. It will lead us to eternal happiness, and a life now and forever lived in Peace.
I no longer sing in the choir at my parish, even though there are more orthodox musical presiders now. I've decided to not let anything distract me from why I am truly there. My life has become much more ordered and calm, my priorities focused and in wright priority. It has made and incredible difference, and my whole life has been changed for the better. There is still pain, and difficulties, trials and suffering, but when you have your eyes focused on the Lord, all of this has purpose. It is the best way to live, and will be the best way to die as well. None of us should have the attitude that it's good enough to just to show up, because showing up for work and not doing what is expected get's us fired, we certainly don't want that fate when we just show up at the pearly gates now, do we?