Why do we go to Mass on Sundays?
It is all too easy to find excuses to not go to Sunday Mass. Life is busy, complicated and difficult, and the thought of going to church can be seen as just one more demand upon our time and attention. Yet going to church to be blessed by God’s Word and the Sacrament of the Altar should never be seen as bothersome. It is actually an opportunity for prayer, rest and renewal, which we all so desperately need for the health of our souls and minds.
For Christian people, Sunday is the first of all days because it is the day of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection. The Collect for Sundays in the Book of Common Prayer (p.98) celebrates this reality with these words: “O God, you make us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of your son our Lord: Give us this day such blessing through our worship of you, that the week to come may be spent in your favor; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The Prayer Book, in the section titled Concerning the Service of the Church (p.13), reminds us that the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery is to be the principle act of Christian worship on Sunday, which is also known as the Lord’s Day. As Catholic Christians we continue in the same worship practice that was established by the earliest Christians as we gather on Sunday to pray, read the scriptures and then follow Jesus’ command to share the bread and wine of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
Sunday Mass – also known as Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion, the Divine Liturgy and the Great Offering – is truly the center of the Church’s life. It is where Christians meet each other, not as a social event, but as a faith filled experience of the transcendence of God. The Catechism in the Prayer Book (p.857) tells us that the purpose of coming together for corporate worship is so that we can “unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.”
Coming together in faith gives members of the Church the opportunity to worship God, to provide for those in need, to comfort those who are suffering and to encourage those who struggle with life’s challenges and difficulties. When we come to Mass, we do not go about our experience of worship in isolation. Participating in the communal celebration of Sunday Mass is a witness of belonging to the Body of Christ and of being faithful to God.
When we come to Mass on Sunday, we are acknowledging the importance to the Lord’s Day in our lives. This is a day of resurrection hope for all people. It is a day to thank God for our many blessings, while at the same time asking God for help in all the things that are about to happen in our lives. It is also a day to be challenged, through Word and Sacrament, to open our eyes and see the world around us as God would have us see it, which is through the lens of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The celebration of Mass on Sunday serves to connect us to the truth of the living God who is the center of our lives, the God who through the raising of His Son Jesus from the dead has made all things new.