During the Consecration at Mass, I always try to focus my gaze upon the priest at the altar, and especially on the newly-consecrated Body and Blood of Our Lord during the elevations. Occasionally my line-of-sight will include someone who seems to be inattentive. I’ve even seen people conversing during the Consecration. The thought “I wonder if they understand why they are here at Mass?” will pass quickly through my mind.
Based on some conversations I’ve had, many Catholics nowadays think that the primary purpose of coming to Mass (beyond fulfilling the Sunday obligation, and avoiding mortal sin) is to gather with the parish community in order to celebrate our life together.
On his recent trip to the Holy Land, in his homily at the Mass in the Upper Room, Pope Francis touched a bit on why we go to Mass:
“In every Eucharistic celebration Jesus offers himself for us to the Father, so that we too can be united with him, offering God our lives, our joys, and our sorrows…offering everything as a spiritual sacrifice.”
Here’s how I would answer if someone asked me why I go to Mass:
- To give thanks (Eucharist) to God by offering and worship, and express my love to Him
- To offer Jesus to the Father
- To offer myself and all aspects of my life, in union with Jesus and my brethren, to the Father
- To hear God’s word in Sacred Scripture (and be changed by it, through the power of the Holy Spirit)
- To have the Paschal sacrifice of Jesus re-presented to me
- To worthily receive the Real Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion (and be changed by Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit)
- To unite myself with the unceasing heavenly liturgy, and remember with hope that Jesus will come again in glory at the end of history
- To be sent forth (Ite, missa est) to proclaim by my life and words the love I have received, that the world might be imbued with Christian values
How would you answer the question??