Last Sunday, Kimberly and I went to Mass at St. Columbkille in Omaha while visiting to celebrate our youngest grandson’s birthday. We could have easily decided not to go to Mass. It was hot and humid. We were tired, had another big day planned with the family, and most of them didn’t want to go. But, we did.
Just walking into the church brought a sense of calm and peace. Our Catholic brothers and sisters were welcoming. The liturgy was empowering, the music was uplifting, the priest was heartwarming, and the deacon preached a great message about not judging and inviting people to experience Jesus. (By the way, he is one of fifteen deacons at St. Columbkille. That’s a lot of deacons!) We left the church after Mass feeling spiritually fed and part of a universal faith family. Everyone there had the common bond of giving thanks to God and sharing His presence through the Eucharist.
So, why do we go to Mass, anyway? We go for our spiritual benefit and worship together as a faith community. We go to Mass to stand together and share in our mission as witnesses for Christ in the world while openly professing and celebrating our Catholic faith. We go to Mass to share in the wonder of God’s love and be transformed by the Spirit of holiness. When that happens, we go forth to spread the Good News that there is something greater in l the life to come. But we cannot experience this feeling if we only go to Mass simply because we always have, because it is our Sunday “obligation,” or someone told us we had to, or we feel guilty if we don’t.
In his book, Rediscovering Catholicism, Matthew Kelly writes that we have lost our sense of wonder about the Mass. He says we are “so unaware of the mystery and the privilege [of the Mass] that we can hardly wait to get out of church.” Kelly tells us that if we truly believe Christ is present in the Eucharist, then the power unleashed within us through receiving the Eucharist is “unfathomable.” He says the only way to undergo this spiritual transformation at Mass is to rediscover the wonder of the Mass – the same wonder those First Christians discovered celebrating Jesus’ presence among them when He said, ‘Do this in memory of me.’
Our Catechism reminds us that God’s overall plan is to draw us closer to Him so we can share in His life. God calls us to seek Him, to know and love Him, and to be in unity with His family. That is why we go to Mass – not because we have to, but so we can join together and be one with God.