But why do YOU go to Mass? A Reminder of the critical importance of rendering personal testimony in evangelization.

010613Some decades ago the argument from authority was often invoked as we answered some question about the faith. It was often considered sufficient merely invoke the existence of a rule. And thus, to my nagging question, “Why should I have to go to mass?” my parents would often answer, “Because it’s a rule!” Other variations of the answer would be, “Because the Church says so,” or, “Because it’s in the Ten Commandments.”

Never mind that there might actually be reasons that there was a rule, or a commandment. It was considered enough in those old days simply to say, “It is a rule.”

If, to some degree, it was sufficient back in those days to merely invoke authority, it is now, for better or worse, no longer the case today that it is enough simply to do so. It is true that there is a rule that we must attend Mass. For as the Catechism says,

This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”…the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin. (CCC 2178, 2181)

And the Ten Commandments say,

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…. the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. (Ex 20:18; Lev 23:3)

and Jesus says in John 6:53,

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

As so it is clear, there is a Rule that we attend Mass. But it also remains true that the reasons the Church, the Lord, and Law all say this. For indeed, something is true not nearly because the Church or the Lord, or the Bible say so. But rather, the Lord, the Bible and the Church say so because it is true.

And from this perspective, perhaps it is a good thing that merely arguing from authority, or arguing from the existence of rules and Commandments, is not enough. We live in times where the reasons, and the logic behind such rules is often insisted upon.

Perhaps it is not unreasonable for those to whom we speak to demand such proof. For, as Scripture puts it, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). And thus it is good that we be able to give reasons for the things we teach, and the practices we rightfully insist upon. As never before, we are required not simply to say what we teach, but why.

So alright, parents, you rightfully should teach your children that they must go to Mass on Sunday, and also to pray, prepare for and receive Sacraments, and to belong to a believing community we call Parish, to insist that they ought to read Scripture know the Faith. Yes, it is right that a parent to teach their children these things. So alright you say to your children you must go to Mass on Sunday.

But but why do YOU go?

Notice that this question, does not ask merely for reasons to go to Mass, but asks for YOUR reasons. Why do you go, what is your personal testimony? For, frankly, it is not enough for us to give merely catechetical or apologetical reasons. Our children, as never before, need to have very personal testimony from their parents about the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ. It’s time to testify, that is, to give her a personal testimony/ Yes, as never before, our children need to hear from us, parents, priests, catechists, parishioners.

So. why do you go to mass? Is there something you get out of it? How have you been blessed, and what are the fruits and effects having gone to Mass faithfully for many years? What effects have the Sacraments, prayer, liturgy in the Mass had on you?

Again, do not overlook personal quality that we must be invited to supply this testimony. Quoting the Saints and the teachings of the Church is indeed good and proper, but it is not enough. There comes a point in every Christian life when we who are mature in the faith need to testify: That what the Scriptures announce and the Church teaches is true. And I personally know it to be true because, in the laboratory of my own life, I have both tested and verified the truth of what is taught, and come to know personally that is true.

Therefore, the question remains, Why do YOU go to Mass?

Let me, as a priest, announce my own testimony. I want to say that since I was 24 years of age, when I entered the seminary, I have gone to Mass every day. I have both studied, and heard proclaimed, God’s Word every day. I have gathered with God’s people in the celebration of the sacred liturgy every day, and every Sunday. I pray every day for an hour, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and go to Confession once a week. I have lived in fellowship with other believers, gathering with them for prayer, and have experienced the both silent and vocal testimony of their faith and their experience that God is real, and God is good.

And I want to say, that as a result of all of this, I am a changed man. I have seen sins put to death, and new virtues come alive. I have a new mind, I think different thoughts, my priorities are different, and are better. I am more discerning, and my understanding of the meaning and purpose of my life is deeper. I have overcome terrible anxieties, and fears, and now I live in confidence, hope and joy. My life is not pain-free, or trouble-free, but I understand these troubles in a new way, seeing them as moments for growth, and grace. I am less negative, more positive and hopeful.

I could go on… But let me say this, I give God all the glory. It is his grace that transforms me. And I will say, He has done this primarily through the liturgy, through the holy Mass. He has accomplished this through the Sacraments, especially Holy Communion and Confession. These have been like medicine to me. And remaining faithful to God and to all of his sacraments, his Word and to the fellowship with the Church, I have been utterly transformed by Him and am being transformed more perfectly day by day.

I go to Mass, because through it, the Lord is changing me, is healing me, is transforming me. I have come to personally understand what the Lord means, that if we do not eat his Flesh and drink his Blood, we have no life in us. Without the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, my life would be so diminished, nothing compared to what it is now, in effect dead. It is only by the grace of God, his Word, his Sacraments, Prayer, and fellowship in the Church, that I have any life at all.

Of course we need to go to Mass on Sunday, of course! Without it I would be as dead as a diabetic without insulin, as starved man without food. I go to Mass, because through it the Lord saves me, feeds me, heals me. I have been privileged to walk with the same community of faith for the better part of 20 years. And in those years, in moments of crisis that arose, they have sung to me, prayed for me, witnessed to me, and shared Communion with me, summoning me to faith and reminding me the trouble don’t last always.

Where would I be without the Lord’s Church, without the Mass all the Sacraments, without the Word of God? At best, I would be nowhere, or it worst, is a very dark place.

Thus, I go to Mass receive the Sacraments, pray and keep fellowship, read and study God’s Word because it changes and transforms me. In no way do I see these as tedious rituals. No indeed, these are transformative realities, encounters with the living and healing Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory and thanksgiving.

Why do YOU go to Mass? What is your testimony. It is not enough today (if it ever was) to invoke rules. We have to say why, and we have to testify to it in a very personal way. Why do you go to Mass? Tell somebody!

31 Replies to “But why do YOU go to Mass? A Reminder of the critical importance of rendering personal testimony in evangelization.”

  1. We go to Mass to eat from the Tree of Life. And one day we will understand completely what Jesus meant when He said:
    “Who so ever eat my Body and Drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” – John 6:54
    And the prophecy of Ephesians 4:13 will be fulfilled. And Christ prayer for unity will be accomplished!

  2. I go to Holy Mass because I believe in God more deeply now, than I ever did before.

  3. I read once of those who so desire the kingdom of heaven, that they spend their lives teaching others about God by faith alone. I thought it was St. Peter who said it.

    1. Careful here! The ONLY time the words “faith” and “alone” apperar in the Bible together are in the Letter of James, 2:24: “You see, then, that it is by his actions that a person is put right with God, and not by his FAITH ALONE.” I suppose this is why Martin Luther said that if he had his way, he “would throw ol’ Jimmy-boy into the fire.”

  4. Because I believe in the most Blessed Holy Trnity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  5. Yes, the Mass and the scripture have changed me a good deal, as well. I do feel stuck, at this point, though. Pray for me, that I might persevere, and continue to grow closer to God.

    It is difficult to bring these things up with our children; we can so easily end up sounding preachy, if we bring them up in a contrived manner, and many children are put off by that; when they come up spontaneously, we often don’t have our topic well prepared, and things might get left out. Parents need lots of prayers. I hope our children get much of this from our example.

    [Typo? “…thus it is good that we be bale to give reasons…” (bade?)]

  6. I, too, have learned from my own experience that we must go to church – and not just any church – if we are going to have our eyes opened and grow in faith. Only the Catholic Church has the apostolic priesthood, and is therefore the only church which can offer man Christ’s Body, changed from bread and wine.

    Believe it or not, it was the sacrament of confession that brought me back. I couldn’t understand why I was so weary, so “dead”, even though I was doing all the things I was being taught to do: pray and memorize scriptures, read the Bible everyday, serve, give, etc. Protestants love to preach how we are saved by “faith alone”, and yet they have their own set of works. As I read the Letter to the Hebrews, God opened my eyes to the fact that I was weary because the load of unconfessed sin that i was continually carrying around had become too heavy to carry. I literally sped to the Catholic Church when I realized this, and my formal confession changed my life!!

    As for the argument of authority, we need to teach people why authority is good, and why it should be respected. For instance, you just can’t explain some things to children – that’s where authority comes in. Power used for good. After all, didn’t we get into this whole mess because Adam and Eve disobeyed authority?

  7. I go for many reasons. First, because I want to commune with The Lord. Because I want to give Him the best of myself and when we get up and put on our nice clothes and fix our hair and *feel* our best, go and sing our best, have time to be with Him as a family, then we are giving Him the best of us. I go to learn, as there is always something there that challenges me to think. Be it something in the readings, the music, the homily, or just some aspect of the mass I’ve never noticed or considered before, I always come away thinking and reflecting. I go to give good example for my children and my non-Catholic husband. It is important that they see me living my faith and this is a large way I can show them. I go for myself. I need to be around others who believe, who will encourage me when I need it, who will pray for me, who will help me up when I stumble. And to be in the presence of the Risen Lord.

    Those are just off the top of my head.

  8. The profound mystery of the Real Presence of Christ alone is sufficient to draw me to Mass each day. I do not feel whole without my daily Eucharist. At Mass, I am worshiping as directed by Jesus, in His true Church, in union with fellow believers throughout time and eternity–amidst my friends standing next to me at chapel; all the faithful throughout the world– past, present and even future; the souls in Purgatory and the saints in heaven. It’s a powerful experience.

    …I wrote my Masters thesis on Aquinas & the Real Presence. Christ is really, truly, and substantially present: Body, Blood, soul, and divinity. The Christ who becomes present to His Church is the immortal and glorified Christ Who is seated at the right hand of the Father. Per St. Thomas, His People rise up to Christ. Who wouldn’t want to come to Mass to greet Him?
    In philosophical terms, the bread becomes a “sacramental pyx” containing Christ. Christ’s natural and glorified body is ‘locally’ in heaven. In this Scholastic sense, I love imagining the Eucharist as a cosmic Stargate opening up on our Savior seated on His heavenly throne–held right in the palm of my hand. Awesome! What wonder!

  9. John 6:54 is a good start. The Last Supper works for me too.

    Interestingly, I read this very morning that another European monastery has returned to the Latin Rite. It is the Cistercian monastery of Vyssi Bord in the Czech Republic. Others being the Trappist monastery of Mariawald and the Benedictine moneastery in Norcia. Imagine, all this since Summorum Pontificum. More to follow for sure. The Holy Spirit is clearly at work. It is very good for the Catholic Church and the faithful.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not minimizing the Novo Ordo Mass. The Catholic Church is the Deposit of Faith. All that is known is known within the Catholic Church. If the only reason to belong to a church is eternal salvation (the nurturing of our souls to the honor and glory of God), well, being inclusive of Tradition is a good thing. Bringing the faithful to full faith is an obligation of the Church.

    All this is wonderful news for believers.

  10. daily Mass + Eucharist is our opportunity to sit at God’s table of grace and consume the Bread of Life … it’s hard for me to understand how so many do not choose this opportunity to be with God in the best way possible on a daily basis … it’s protein for our soul, eliminating any timeline and effecting His birth, His Life and Teachings, His Passion Death Resurrection + Ascension in the here and now for me; for all who choose to participate … intimate relationship with Jesus + Mary is a treasured gift I cannot ever get enough of and I’m so grateful for that awareness … to know that God waits for me and eagerly embraces me every day at Mass is beyond my understanding but not my belief … life is meant to be an amazing journey with God

  11. Because a properly celebrated Mass, with full, faithful participation by all those present, is as close to perfection as anyone/anything can possibly get, this side of Heaven. The Mass is also the primary “engine” of God’s grace and salvation in Jesus Christ, just as the sacraments of the church are God’s preferred distribution channels for that grace. Regular participation at Mass is absolutely essential if we hope to remain pleasing and acceptable to God, since we have a duty to give God thanks, praise and acceptable worship. We also have a duty to publicly swear faithful allegiance to Jesus Christ, our savior and king. By regularly engaging in worship of this kind, we give God permission to interfere in our lives, which is always good, despite our often distorted perception of such things. Our worthy participation in the sacred liturgy and subsequent reception of the Holy Eucharist is typically the only way we can personally encounter, know and love the whole Christ … body, blood, soul and divinity … in this life. Regular participation in the Mass and the sacraments is important because I expect to be sanctified, inspired and transformed by the experience … and finally … judged … and I would prefer to be judged by an intimate friend/relative who also happens to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords … than by an all powerful stranger! For all of these reasons and many, many more, I would not consider missing Sunday Mass, for the world.

  12. Wonderful post – mass sustains me and strengthens me. I’m a mess without it.

  13. God is present everywhere, many times outside church have I been awed by his works – from my newborn daughter placed in my arms for the first time, to mountain whose tops cannot be see from beneath the clouds.

    But God is closer to us at Mass than He is anywhere else; it is only at Mass that we can actually touch Him, through the mystery of the Eucharist.

  14. I have fallen in love with Jesus and long to be with Him. He is wholly real and present at Mass and He comes down from heaven to be with us. And because of this, I’m becoming a better person. Some day I hope to be with Him in heaven and with all the other saints and angels who have gone before me. Mass is my consolation here on earth.

  15. I go to the Holy Mass so that this little, insignificant, worthless being may honor HIM in my littlest, humblest and best offering of myself and of my pains, sufferings, sorrows, joy, happiness and love. Baruch ata ADONAI!!!

  16. It is my obligation, the highlight of my week, and realize that this is the most specific thing that Jesus Christ gave Christians to do after he left (“Do this in memory of me”)..
    To acknowledge my sinfulness and ask God’s forgiveness.

  17. I am still one of those guys who prays, “I do believe. Help a believer in his unbelief.”

  18. I am very far from being a saint now as it is so I wonder what I would be like without the Mass.

    I know that through the Mass Christ works His miracle in me in ways I will truly know only when I come face to face with Him.

    I think it going to Mass because it is God’s rule is laudable in itself. It says that for the person, what God rules counts.

  19. 1. Because Mass sustains me. (The six months abstinence during RCIA was absolute torture).
    2. To set an example for my children.
    3. Because He said so.

  20. 1) Food for the journey
    2) stewardship is a way of life

    Lord you alone aew the source of every good gift of the vast array of our universe. We praise you and we thank you for your great power and your tender faithful love. Everything we are and everything we have is your gift, and after having created us you have given us into the keeping of your son Jesus Chridt. Fill our minds with his truth and our hearts with his love. That in His spirit we may be bonded together into a community of faithful, caring people. In the name and spirit of Jesus we commit ourselves to be good stewards of the gifts entrusted to us, to share our time, our talent, and our material gifts as an outward sign of the treasure we hold in Jesus. Amen

    This prayer is said at the end of each mass at our parish and saying the words reminds me of EXACTLY why I am at mass.

  21. I go to Mass to enter into “God’s sacred time.” In His presence I am given the grace to unite myself with the Communion of Saints. Those of us on earth, those in purgatory, along with all the angels and saints in heaven. It is at the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, where I meet my earthly father (in spirit)(passed 5/1/12). I pray for all those I remember who have passed from this life, and offer my participation of the Holy Mass for their souls, and those still on earth. Participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass brings me peace…which words cannot explain.

  22. I go to mass because I cannot wait to go see the Lord. Then I get to consume Him and join Him in perfect union… the thought of His wanting me more than I want Him fills me with joy and makes me giddy. And fulfilled. I go to mass because I am complete there, as an actual member, a member of the Body of Christ, I am fulfilled in the presence of others and validated as an actual living member of Christ’s Body. To be actually in the presence of all the saints is pretty amazing and enticing, too.

  23. I attend Mass every day, I pray the Rosary in Church every day and pray the office. I go because I learn something new each day as the Father’s proclaim the Gospel and then thru the homily make it useful in our everyday lives, it makes me want to be a better person. It is great to have a personal relationship with every Priest and parishioner in the Church. Also our parish is one of the most beautiful in the world. I go because thru praying the Mass, we can be united not only with all the Saints in Heaven but also with our loved ones in Purgatory. At our Church, the homilies are the very, very best. Ever walk into a Catholic Church and immediately feel welcome and at home, to have your Brothers and Sisters smile and greet you or invite you “in”? It happens here; I tried four other Catholic Churches before I joined here last year. Our Fathers are called the Order of Preachers for good reason. Our parish is St Dominic’s in DC.

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