REASONS WHY ONE ATTENDS MASS
1. To Encounter Jesus - His Real Presence - Source of Faith - Giver of life -Answer to Prayer
On a personal level, the motivation that draws one to attend Mass is rooted in a true ... personal ... connection with Jesus and his gift of Grace. One goes to Mass because they are certain that Jesus is present. They go to meet him, to take their place at the Heavenly Banquet, to sit at his table to listen to his voice speaking to their hearts, and to nourish and renew their spirit by partaking of the One Bread and the One Cup from his table.
All of this is cloaked in liturgical forms, rituals that are meant to support the expectations of faith one brings to the Mass. These liturgical forms bear a serious burden of responsibility to clearly and faithfully point to the realities hidden within their forms.
2. To hear the Voice of God - Seeding the heart with true Wisdom
In the General Instruction of the Roman Missal we read "When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the Church, God himself speaks to his people, and Christ, present in his word, proclaims the Gospel." #29 General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
This is not bible study, it is the "act of listening". Think of the times, in communication with another, you would have to say: "That is not what I meant. Listen carefully to my every word, to what I am saying." Words are instruments, like a brush in a painter's hand, forming a picture, so that we can see what he sees. The more you gaze upon it, the more you see. Listening is contemplation with the eyes/ears of the heart. Movement of the heart becomes the measure of understanding.
The homily that follows is not a sermon reciting lists of codes of conduct. The homily is a fellow contemplative's take on the message revealed in the words - understanding that has been mined after much contemplation. "Now here is what I see ..." Clearly, those who minister in the liturgy of the word must be true contemplatives.
3. To be Nourished in Spirit - The Eucharist ... the Bread of Life.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Jo. 6:51
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. vs. 53
“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” … Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” … As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. … Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
All life must receive nourishment if its life is to survive. Cut off from its source of nourishment, it will surely parish. True faith is not just a bunch of ideas, it is something living, growing, maturing - something that bears fruit as it lives. In nature, the relationship between that which lives and its source of nourishment is called nutrient assimilation. In the spiritual life it is called Communion.
Jesus answered the question, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” at the Last Supper. Jesus takes the bread and cup, which are natural instruments of nourishment that we understand, and transforms them into an instrument of Communion, to nourish the Life of the Spirit he has placed within our spirits. With the eyes of the flesh we see natural food and drink. But with the eyes of faith we see Jesus nourishing this new life he has given us. Nowhere else can we find such a Communion than here in the Eucharist.
How ironic are Jesus words, “Do you also want to leave?” as people withdraw from the "Table" and leave the church, not to return. Our answer is that of Peter's, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Jo. 68-69
For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Cor. 12:12For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Rom. 12:4
We do not go to church for ourselves alone. This may sound odd to this age that asks, "... what is there in it for me?" Jesus tells Peter, "I will build my Church." We go to church because we have been called there. We are one of the many building blocks that Jesus uses to build his Church. Each one has a vocation given them by Christ. We have our part to play in God's plan for the world. In a way we go, not to get but to give ourselves up as Christ gave himself up to the work of salvation. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ living within me"
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Rom. 12:4Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2Cor 5:5My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal 2:20Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor. 5:17
Spend some time in prayer with these points meant for your prayer time.