I missed Mass on May 12.
I could have made it to the 6 p.m. Spanish Mass at a Parish near mine.
But… I would have been in my Army uniform and smelly. I had spent four hours riding in the back of a HMMWV and three additional hours driving from my unit to my home.
I would have had 20 minutes to shower/change/get ready and leave for Mass… and I would have been late to Mass. At least 10 minutes late.
Or I could have not changed or showered and been on time.
To a Spanish Mass… which I’ve gone to before.
And it’s almost like going to a Latin Mass for me. I don’t know what’s going on.
The Spanish Mass is the ordinary rite, but it’s… in Spanish.
I don’t speak Spanish.
So… I didn’t go.
I figured this would be a good time to see what the Catechism said about this.
2192 “Sunday… is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.” “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”
Bound to participate in Mass. Wow. That’s pretty clear.
Bound to do so. We need to, have to, must do so.
2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”
Dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.
It’s been going on for a while. This isn’t some “new rule” the Church just thought of.
We know the Church doesn’t work like that, anyway.
Our traditions have generally existed since the beginnings, we just don’t always have them written down. We don’t always have them in concrete.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t legitimate.
This is my favorite:
2179 “A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop.” It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:
Let me break in here. “The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the Eucharist.”
Ordinary, in this case, means what we should see as normal, usual. It’s the usual practice that we should receive the Eucharist, that we should receive Christ.
We shouldn’t receive Christ at home (unless necessary). We shouldn’t say an act of spiritual communion if we can make it to Mass.
The usual, normal, ordinary way, is the way we should do it. That’s in the Mass.
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.
You cannot pray at home as at church.
Hm. You cannot pray at home as at church. You can not pray at home as at church.
I just have to repeat it to make it stick.
… from one great heart…
There is power when we gather together that we don’t have when we’re alone.
This doesn’t mean that our personal prayer doesn’t matter.
But prayer together matters too. It’s important.
A religion necessitates this community aspect. We must gather.
Jesus asked us to gather together.
“He who is not with me is against me; and he who does not gather with me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.” “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”
2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort.
The minimum. These laws are the minimum we need for sanctity. That’s what we want, after all.
2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days…
This paragraph continues with the second and third precept. Those aren’t topical right now. I’ll get to them someday.
1382 The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord’s body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us.
Makes sense to me.
Of course, there are reasons one can miss Mass. But it should be a rare occasion.
A dire need.
I plan to add this to my next confession.
See my previous Learn something post: