Many who do not follow the practice of Roman Catholics attending Mass often say, “why is it a sin to miss church services?” We go whenever possible, but a sin to not attend? Glad we’re not in your shoes!
There might be some, if not many, Catholics who may have slipped into that mode of thinking, especially when one looks at the diminishing attendance at Mass. What is the relevance for one to begin catechetical instructions as children, become Confirmed at puberty, then ignore the Church until marriage comes along. They return to the Church for a time then slip back to their pre-teen years and attitudes. Here is where the crisis in their young lives enters a cross-road.
We, as teachers and administrators in the Church see this over and over. Try as we might, some do come back, thanks be to God, while many choose to do nothing or follow other types of worship which has very little semblance of early catechesis in the Catholic Church
Perhaps their thoughts make them believe that God is an abstract entity, and as children their parents followed an old-fashioned idea that no longer fits today’s modern or new-age philosophy. “I pray, sometimes, when things go wrong such as mass shootings, 9/11, or natural disasters.” “But, aren’t these just events that occur in life?” “The tragedies pass and we must move on.”
What is the essence of attending Mass when just acknowledging God is good enough? Well! the Israelites did that once they exited Egypt. Then when Moses brought them to the Desert of Sinai, and was with God on the mountain longer than they liked, their worship was no longer on the Lord God who brought them away from Pharaoh, and they fashioned a new type of god to worship. Whether it was a golden calf, or something that glittered like wealth, prestige, self-indulgence, or this fits my personal needs. That is what new-age philosophy is about. It’s the Me Generation and “I did it my way” adage.
The first commandment is, “I the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I the Lord, your God, am a jealous God.” (Ex. 20: 2-5a).
If you ever viewed a potterer with clay on a spindle fashioning a creation that once it is completed, heated, and formed into something; the artist could stand back and admire as a created object that will bring oohs and awes from those who can join and admire the artist’s ability and creative giftedness.
Did you ever wonder what exactly God meant when He said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1: 26). Of course, we know that this was not a physical likeness, but the deep spiritual love that is God. A person containing a heart of pure love and concern for his brothers and sisters. This is the image we are made in which is the creation God fashioned and could stand back and admire this greatest form of clay, which would need to be heated and become the form of God’s Eternal Love. upon man.
God’s first teaching was to have the Israelites remember who their Lord is and give back the thanksgiving the Lord handed on to them. If we are living in the shadow of this journey from Egypt, to Mt. Sinai, through the Prophets to John the Baptist and his pronouncement of “There is The Lamb of God”, we have the same obligation to worship the Lord of Hosts.
To worship God is more than to say I know there is a God, or to just acknowledge some higher power but never really understanding who that is, is to ignore the very tenets of this journey. That is why attending Holy Mass is so imperative and yes, missing Mass is like the Israelites waiting for Moses’ return while fashioning something to replace the God who fashioned each one of us.
Attending Holy Mass is more than fulfilling an obligation. It is reaching out to the Living and Loving God who created us not just as a piece of clay to make something to be admired, but a human being who would appreciate the loving hands of a God who would love His creation and see His creatures love Him in return. This is what the Holy Mass is about. Love upon Love!
Ralph B. Hathaway November 2018