It is no real news that Mass attendance is down. What are some excuses that people use for not going to Mass and how can we respond to them?
I have heard: “I don’t get anything out of it.” “We had a soccer game.” “God is everywhere, and I just choose to worship Him from home, or the lake, or the golf course.”
I have also heard of people leaving the Church because they found somewhere more exciting to worship.
I will respond to the last excuse first. I will admit that as a youth I found Mass boring. I went with my parents because they made me, and later I went by myself because if I didn’t go I would feel bad. I knew that it was bad to miss Mass, but if you would have asked my why I couldn’t have given you a good answer, or any answer at all.
This changed when I found the Misselette, the book in the pew with the readings and some songs in it.
I realized that the Mass was in certain parts and that in the first part we did certain things and in the second part we did other things. Thus, I began learning very slowly that Mass had certain activities at certain times. I then wondered why we did them at those times and Mass became less boring. I was educating myself out of boredom. The more I understood, the more interesting Mass became.
I came to realize that Mass wasn’t just something that you go to “get something out of it.” Mass is something that you go to put into it. It is work. That is what liturgy means, “work of the people.” Mass is one big prayer that we are called to pray. That is why it is not appropriate to pray the Rosary while you are at Mass. It would be like saying an Our Father while at the same time saying a Hail Mary.
I think most of these objections are said in ignorance. If you learn more about Mass and what it is, then every other argument falls apart. Again the argument “I don’t get anything out of it.” Well, you do get your sins forgiven and you do get to receive in a unique way the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. You do mysteriously get connected with the Last Super, Calvary, the Resurrection, and the Worship that is taking place in Heaven. It is also participating in the event that frees us from sins.
Now, with this in mind, what else is there to compete with Mass?
Here are some verses to support this:
Hebrews 10:24-25 ..“and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
St. Paul is telling us not to neglect to meet together.
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 "Observe the sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; … You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
Why were the Israelites commanded to keep the Sabbath that is Saturday holy? To use that time to remember what God had done for them in freeing them from the slavery of Egypt.
But now God has done something greater. There is a New Exodus.
God has not saved us from Egypt, but He has saved us from sin. And HOW did He do it, how did He save us from sin - with an outstretched arm!!
At Mass we are participating in this New Exodus.
Listen to Jesus’ words:
John 12:32-33 “when I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show by what death He was to die.
But Christ is not just lifted up on the cross, He is lifted up from the dead, He is then lifted up from the earth in His Ascension, and finally He is lifted up at Mass in the elevation of the Eucharist.
And why, why is He lifted up? To draw all men to Himself.
This is more important than soccer. And this event is so holy that it isn’t meant to be entertaining. It is meant to be solemn and sanctifying.
Yes, God is everywhere, but what God is doing at Mass is something that He is NOT doing on a golf course, or in the woods, or on your couch.
We are called to gather together, just like we will be gathered together in heaven, to witness this event and even more so, to participate in it.
If you are still bored, pray that God enlighten you to better understand what is happening.