I agree that parents have the duty to guide their children in the right direction. But does insisting that their children attend Mass as required by the Church, make such attendance a dreaded chore? It does only if the children do not appreciate what the Mass really is.
But actually, it is not just a boring church service. It is not even just an interesting church service. There is no experience on the face of the earth that can equal what takes place on that altar when Mass is being celebrated. The Mass brings the Passion into our lives in a very concrete way. This is not a ho-hum piece of intellectual information.
If you were at the point of dying and someone saved your life, what would you say to that person in response? Just saying ‘thanks,’ would seem pretty inadequate. Well, how much more inadequate might we feel when the person is God who has saved us from eternal death?
In His Passion, Jesus didn’t just suffer physically, but mentally as well. In fact in the Garden of Gethsemane, He suffered His Passion in His mind before suffering in His body. No wonder, His perspiration became as drops of blood! But in doing so, he united Himself with every human being who has ever suffered or will suffer in his mind in any way. The person who suffers mental illness or simple anxiety can know that He is there with him.
When His physical suffering began with the scourging at the pillar, they flogged Him with whips, knocking the wind out of His lungs. No part of His backside escaped the thrust of the whips. Then they beat Him with whips that had hard knobs at their ends. These burst open the skin and sprayed blood everywhere. Finally, they bludgeoned him with whips that had hooks at their ends that ripped out chunks of flesh. St. Faustina had a vision of this and saw two ribs partially exposed.
When the scourging finally ended, He could hardly stand due to the loss of so much blood. Such loss also gave Him a pounding headache which lasted until His death. They then treated Him as a buffoon, pressing a crown of thorns onto His head and putting a dirty purple cloak over His open wounds, inviting immediate infection.
By the time they made Him carry His cross, He was so week that He fell under it three times. So they pressed a stranger into action to help Him carry it to Calvary. They were afraid that He would die before being able to crucify Him. Finally, He reached Calvary and they nailed His hands and feet to the cross and raised it up where He suffered for three hour until the poisons in His body overcame it. At the end of the third hour of hanging there He died. That moment of His death is an eternal moment it transcends time, covering every human being who has ever lived or will live. But not only does that eternal moment transcend time, it remains in time as the Eucharist.
What makes Christianity unique among all religions is that God chose to join the human race which He created and showed men and women what He means by love. He didn’t just give them merely an abstract, intellectual understanding, He showed them what He meant.
At Mass as we see the bread and wine separate from each other on the altar, we recognize that His blood left His body as He gave His life for us. When one really realizes that this is what the Mass is, just to be present at Mass and receive His very Person into our body once in life would be an unspeakable honor. Yet we have that honor weekly and even daily if we choose.
You are fortunate to have parents who care so much about you, my friend.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.