Saturday, July 3, 2010
Blog #21 WHY? WHY NOT?
Blog # 20 WHY? WHY NOT? I know one large church on Long Island where nearly eight thousand people come to church each Sunday. I would like to have the opportunity of asking each of those people why they were coming week after week. I wonder if anyone has ever asked them. I wonder if they know. I imagine many people go to church by force of habit. It is a good habit we know that, so we want to keep it. But like other habits, once we get the habit we don't need much of a reason or motive to keep the action going other than the habit itself. Unless someone asks us "Why?", we may go on for years without a need or occasion for expressing or even being conscious of a reason for what we do by force of habit. Chances are, if the dominant reason we go to church on Sunday is a habit,our neighbor's reason for not going may be that he or she doesn't have that habit. His or her reason for not going sounds about as good as our reason for going. He or she doesn't bother us, and we don't bother him or her. Life goes on, and we all die in our turn. I think some people go to church because they feel they 'owe it to God'. After all, God gives us so much and He asks for just this little in return. It would be small on our part not to give it to Him, so we go. The only real valid reason as I see it for going to church would combine something of the reason a young man goes to see his sweetheart, the reason a person joins with others to play a game of ball, the reason a person sits by the ocean to watch the sun go down, and the reason a person plants a garden or goes to work. Going to church should have all the desire, joy, wisdom, and enthusiasm of all the rest of our lives put together in the one valid reason for going to church. In our identity as Catholics, united as branches on a vine with Jesus through faith and Baptism, theoretically if not in the conscious awareness of each one present at Mass on Sunday, we go to church to worship God by participating as a community of faith in an act of sacrifice, defined as an offering to God alone of some material thing by an official representative of the people with the change or destruction of what is offered in order to recognize God's supreme dominion and our complete dependence upon God. This reason could not be fulfilled by ourselves alone or with our family at home, while strolling in the woods or contemplating God under the stars, or resting in the shade of a tree on the bank of a beautiful river. Find out why this is true from the definition of sacrifice given above. Then try to understand what Jesus was doing as He died on Calvary and why He was sent by the Father to do that. Then remember, if you are old enough, or discover, if you are young, why the Mass used to be most commonly referred to as "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass".Finally try to work out in your mind why sacrifice is, and has been so designated by God as the best way to worship God.(cf Cain and Abel, Noah, Moses, Abraham). It is simply because to love means to give, and the more we love the more we give. Consequently, as Jesus put it: "There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend." (Jn 15: 13). Death is the only opportunity we have to love perfectly, to give to God alone, Who alone deserves out total love, all that we are and all that we have. That is worship; that is Calvary. At Mass we go there and we share and affirm within ourselves that perfect unconditional love. Why do you go to Mass? Why not ?