"If we really understood the Mass, we would die of Joy."
-St. John Vianney
It was quarter to eleven and Mary was complaining to her mother "I don't want to go. It's so boring." Her mother, Grace said "It's only 45 minutes and we should go, its' a Sunday. Plus next Sunday you have your soccor game." Mary was stomping her feet persisting with "I still don't want to go". Mason, her older brother chimed in with "what's the point, mom. Your going to be late again." Grace wasn't sure what to do. She looked at the time again. It was now 11am and mass already started. She thought to herself "maybe next month it will be different?"
If you are a parent or know one, you know that it can be a challenge bringing young children to church. What's the point of going in the first place? Is it just a routine or something nice to do on a Sunday? Is there a deeper meaning? What is the Catholic Mass all about anyway? Growing up as a cradle Catholic, my family went to church every Sunday and on Holy Days. Afterwards we would go out for brunch or lunch, which was always a treat. It definielty made the week go by so much smoother when we went to church on Sunday. I used to like going to church as a child because I felt that something supernatural was happening but didn't know exactly what it was. Plus, I did feel close to God everytime we were there. Then things changed when I went off to college and going to church was the furthest thing on my mind.
In today's culture, it's hard to balance schedules with team sports, after school activities, family events, and time with friends. How does time with God fit into our schedules? or does He take a back seat? Working as a Director of Faith Formation at a Catholic church, I hear many parents being torn between sports schedules and Confirmation prep classes. I tell them that it is more important for their child and for them to attend Mass rather than to complete make up work for a class missed. Why is this so important? Because when we go to mass, we go to Heaven for an hour. See, the Catholic Mass is not man made. It was designed by God. It is Biblical. It says in Luke 22:19-20 it says "then He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to them saying "this is my body which will be given for you." Jesus gave this authority to the apostles to hand down to every generation. This is part of the Catholic Mass where the Holy Spirit changes the bread, the Eucharist into the real presence of Jesus. To find out more on how the Mass is biblical, check out this website from Catholic answers: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-mass-is-profoundly-biblical
If kids and families can get into a routine of going to school five days a week, why is it so hard to get to church? Maybe because we don't value it or see it as something important? Maybe we don't really understand the mass, so we don't go. Or maybe our hearts have been become hardened with unforgiveness and going to mass feels uncomfortable? Whatever the reason may be, God wants us to be happy and He knows what will make us happy....a relationship with Him. St. Augustine said " Our hearts are restless, until they rest in thee." Meaning we are searching all the time for fullfilment, but the only thing that satisfies the human heart is God.
Now that I am in my late 40's, I never thought that I would be going to daily mass. I had an experience many years ago where the Holy Spirit came to me one evening and told me I shouldn't doing something anymore. It had to do with a particular sin I struggled with for a long time. No words were said to me, but I knew what He said. It was a conviction on my heart and I felt guided and loved by this experience. That Saturday I went to confession and talked with the priest about this sin, repented and I felt so much lighter afterwards. He told me for my penance to mediate on the Eucharist next time I attend mass. Well, the next day was Sunday (Corpus Christi Sunday) and that's what I did. When I mediated after recieving the Eucharist, I felt Jesus right there in that moment. He filled me with His peace, love and joy. It was like being wrapped up in a warm blanket of love. I knew at that moment, that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. It's not a symbol or representation. It's real and I am so thankful that Jesus gave us the Sacraments of the church.
Why did God design the mass? It's not for Him, but for us. Jesus instituted the Eucharist because He found a way to be close to his people here on earth. The closest we can get to God on earth is in the Mass. We are in union with Him, as well as everyone else recieving communion. Not only at that mass, but in communion with everyone in the whole world who attend mass that day. That is so awesome! Heaven is union with God, and that is what the Mass is. We don't have to wait to die to experience that union.
So, what about the hectic schedules that seem to be part of every family life? What do we do in fitting in church, schedules and school? Good thing is, that there are many Catholic churches and you can find a mass in your town, outside your town and anywhere in your state. The word Catholic means "universal." You can go to a mass in Italy, Japan or anywhere in the world, and it is exactly the same. If there is a family event or a sports game on Sunday, there are masses at 4pm or 5pm on Saturday. You can even find a Sunday evening mass at 6pm or 7pm. You just have to look online for the times. No matter what your schedule is like, God is waiting for you to know Him and to Love Him. Why not start today? It is what your heart is looking for.
About the Author: Donna L. Marotto is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Director of Faith Formation at St. Thomas Church and a Lay Franciscan. If you would like to contact her, please email her at email@example.com or visit her website at Youarelovedministry.com