Why Go to Mass ?
Bishop Michael Evans
A simple explanation of the Eucharist and our encounter with Christ in it.
‘Ite, missa est’
The Eucharist is called the Mass (Missa) because it ‘concludes with the sending forth (missio) of the faithful into the world, so that they may fulfil God’s will in their daily lives’ (n. 1332). We leave the celebration as people sent by Christ to bring him to others, and in a sense to be him for others. We receive the sacramental presence of Christ in the Eucharist in order to be together the sacramental presence of Christ in the world. At the end of each Mass, Jesus says to us, ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you’ (Jn 20:21; cf. 17:18). The celebration of Mass may be ended, but we ‘go in peace to love and to serve the Lord’.
A service to others
We do not come to Mass purely for our own spiritual benefit, or even for that of our particular parish community. We celebrate the Eucharist for the salvation of the human race, for both the living and the dead, and making the effort to take part in the Mass is a service to others. Through our simple celebrations of the Eucharist, the saving power of Christ’s sacrifice radiates out to ‘advance the peace and salvation of the world’ (Eucharistic Prayer 3).
Coming to Mass is also one of the most important ways in which we bear witness to Christ before the world. Simply by being there together at the Eucharist, professing and celebrating our faith, we stand up for what we believe. In past centuries, Catholics have been put to death because they insisted on risking everything to take part in the Mass in times of persecution. For young people who have just been confirmed, for others who simply do not have the time or health to be actively involved in all kinds of Church activities and ministries, and indeed for every Catholic, the most public way to witness to our faith is to celebrate the Eucharist together, especially on Sundays. There are some, even friends and family, who will think it strange, even laughable, and for many young people today the decision to come to Mass demands a courage not unlike that of the martyrs. But there is no greater sign of life in a parish than to see young people at Mass together.