Thursday, August 15, 2013

Daughter of her Son - the Assumption of Mary

by Mark Rothe, Master Catechist

Today is the Solemnity of the Bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculate Mother of God, a "holy day of obligation."

 About this idea of Mass as an "obligation" --

 Yes, this is the Church's own terminology, and it is 100 percent true, but I'll confess I'm not entirely comfortable with the word in our contemporary times. Too many people associate "obligation" with drudgery, a burden, a really big pain, something one has to do when when he would rather being doing something else that is more interesting or beneficial. We're obliged to pay way too much of our hard-earned money in taxes rather than spend it on what we want to spend it on. We're obliged to get up in the morning and have to go to work, rather than sleep in and play all day. In most people's eyes, obligation is the antithesis of freedom. It is a matter of owing something to another, rather than giving it freely and voluntarily.

Well, Mass need not be, and should not be, seen as a burden and a hassle. Instead, it should rightly be seen an an opportunity. An opportunity to be with God and love Him. And the more we love Him, the more we receive from Him, the more we obtain the grace to be truly free, the freedom and power to do good and be the people we want to be, rather than be the slaves of worldly desire and sin. Thus, we can see that the truth of the "obligation" to attend Mass is not something that deprives us of freedom, rather, it is a truth that sets us free. In fact, it so liberates us that, by showing God your love at Mass, you can receive the "medicine of immortality," i.e. the Eucharist. It is hope, the hope by which we are already saved.

 If we love God, and if we want to be with Him in heaven, then we should want to be with Him for a little bit while we are still sojourning down here on earth. Conversely, if we purposely do not go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, we are saying that we do not want to be with God, we do not want to spend a measly one-hour in His presence. Not only does that end up making us less free, making us servants and slaves to worldly concerns and sin, it imposes the enormous burdens and pains and drudgery that are associated with worldly concerns and sin.

 Ultimately, of course, that means that if we do not want to be with God here and now, then we will not be with Him after we have left this earth. Despite the use of the word "obligation" to refer to Sundays and Holy Days, neither God nor the Church will force you to go to Mass, just as God will not force you to spend time with Him in heaven. You are perfectly free to spend your eternity apart from Him in hell if you desire.

 So, go to Mass!

If you have been away for awhile, for whatever reason you left and/or have stayed away, do not be afraid to admit that you are starving. Come home. The Father will slaughter the fatted calf and all of heaven will rejoice and celebrate.

 If it is not proper for you to receive Holy Communion because you’ve done something that you shouldn’t have done and thus are in a state of sin, but you like it and intend to keep on doing it, so that you're not ready to go to Confession yet, don't go up for Communion, but do still go to Mass! Jesus Christ is there!  (And work toward getting yourself to Confession!)

 If the liturgy is poorly done, or if the music is bad, or the homily is boring, or the other people are dressed inappropriately, or the priest/deacon/ministers are too liberal or too conservative or too this or too that, or you stayed out too late the night before, or you don't understand some of the teachings of the Church, or you think you know better and oppose the Church, or whatever million other excuses you can come up with, even when you are fully justified in your dissatisfaction, none of that is God's fault. Don't take it out on Him. He is the remedy to all these problems. He is the priceless pearl. The Eucharist is "the source and summit" of our faith. The Blessed Sacrament is Emmanuel, God with us. No matter how lousy everything else is, do not let that keep you from Him.

Mass is not a burdensome duty, but is an empowering opportunity. It should not be thought of as having to go to Mass, but as getting to go to Mass. An opportunity to be with God and love Him.

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