Why Go to Mass ?
Bishop Michael Evans
A simple explanation of the Eucharist and our encounter with Christ in it.
‘Going to Mass’ has always been a key sign of a committed Catholic, from those first Christians who met in their houses for ‘the breaking of bread’ (Acts 2:42, 46), to Catholics who risked their lives by celebrating Mass during time of persecution, to those Catholics today who make a conscious choice to take an active part in the life and worship of the Church. In every century there have been Catholics who have opted out of the Church’s worship, but taking part in the Mass, above all on Sundays, has always been seen as central and crucial for living fully the Catholic faith and life. Coming to Mass, taking part in a Catholic Eucharist every Sunday, is still the main visible sign of being a Catholic. Living the Mass, taking an active part in it and allowing its power to transform our lives, is what being a Catholic is all about (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1389, 2177-9; all references are to this Catechism unless otherwise noted).
The central importance of the Mass or Eucharist is something strongly reaffirmed by the Catechism: the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of ecclesial life’, ‘the sum and summary of our faith’ (n. 1327), ‘the most blessed Sacrament’ and ‘the Sacrament of sacraments’ (nn. 1211, 1330), and it ‘remains the centre of the Church’s life’ (n. 1343). Why? Because it ‘contains’ and makes present the living mystery of Christ, Christ himself, and his saving work of bringing the whole human race into communion with his Father. If we really understood the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Good News of salvation, and if we grasped fully the truth that the Eucharist is the making present, here and now, of all that Jesus has achieved for us, we would need no urging to come to Mass.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism gives us the essential content of the Catholic faith in the light of the Second Vatican Council and of the whole of the Catholic’s Tradition. Obviously, therefore, there is nothing radically different about its teaching on the Eucharist, but there are refreshingly new ways of looking at the ancient doctrine.
The very first article of the Catechism reminds us of God’s overall plan: God draws close to us so that we can share his own life; he calls us to seek him, know him and love him; he calls together into the unity of his family, the Church. This is the key to understanding the mystery of the Eucharist.
As Christ’s Eucharistic people, we are all challenged to develop our doctrine on the Eucharist, to mature in our Eucharistic faith, and to become ever more deeply Eucharistic persons and communities (n. 23).