What is the purpose of Mass?


Browsing a few subjects here, and I see mentioned many times that Mass is to build parish unity. That is different from what I’d been taught. Not, what Mass is, but what is its purpose.
I love Mass, each and every part of it.
While we celebrate as a community, with our brothers and sisters, it (IMO) is not our time during Mass to make friends, but to worship with the reverence due. Before Mass, after Mass, but not during Mass or after coming into the bodily presence of the Lord and His sacrifice.

From this website, it sums it up in 4 parts.
*]Give Thanks
*]Make up for our sins

The purposes of the Mass

What else should you do, besides having a lot of faith, if you want to attend Holy Mass well? You should identify yourself with Christ. You should remember the Scriptures and have “the same mind” "that he had on the cross (cf. Phil 2:5). The same mind which means the same purposes. What purposes did Jesus have on the cross? What was he concerned about? We can sum up his ends or purposes as four: to give glory to God the Father; to thank him; to make up for the sins of men; and to ask him for graces for us. If each time you go to Mass, you try to live at least one of these four purposes, you will attend Holy Mass well.



To unite ourselves with Christ through the Holy Eucharist. :slight_smile:


The purpose of Mass is definitely not to build community. That, to my ear, is odd/modern/weird and is a gross confusion of a somewhat fine point. I would say that, generally speaking, a parish that celebrates liturgy well and is also open to building community will in fact build community, and that Masses especially do promote the building of community, but building community is not “why we do Mass.”

So perhaps we can say that building community is an indirect effect of celebrating Mass. Mass is by its very nature a community act, so it does build community when Mass is being celebrated (hopefully), but we do not go to Mass for the explicit purpose of building community, which is vague and only somewhat helpful in a discussion anyway.

I think we moderns tend to over-analyze silly things like “building community.” Maybe if we just did what we are supposed to do, and did it well, in whatever venture–family, parish, school, work–then that would be by its very nature a community building activity and then we wouldn’t have to worry our heads about such matters.

So I think this is a case of confusing a secondary natural effect as a primary religious purpose.


Archbishop Fulton Sheen

The Sacrifice of the Mass may be presented-under another Analogy. Picture a House which had Two (2) Large Windows, on opposite-sides. One Window looks-down-into a Valley, the other to a Towering Mountain. The owner could gaze-on both, and somehow see that they were related: the Valley is the Mountain ‘Humbled’; the Mountain is the Valley ‘Exalted’.
The Sacrifice of the Mass is something like that. Every Church, in a way, looks-down-on a Valley, but the Valley-of Death and Humiliation, in which we see a Cross. But it also looks-up-to a Mountain, an Eternal Mountain, the Mountain-of Heaven, where Christ Reigns Gloriously. As the Valley and the Mountain are related-as Humiliation and Exaltation, so the Sacrifice of the Mass is related-to Calvary in the Valley, and to Christ in Heaven, and the Eternal Hills.
All Three (3), Calvary, the Mass, and the Glorified Christ in Heaven, are different levels-of the Great Eternal Act of Love. The Christ Who appeared-in Heaven, as the Lamb Slain from the Beginning-of the World, at a certain Moment-in Time, came to this Earth and Offered His Life in Redemption-for the Sins of Men. Then He Ascended-into Heaven where that same Eternal Act of Love continues, as He intercedes-for Humanity, showing the Scars of His Love to His Heavenly Father. True, Agony and Crucifixion are Passing-things, but the Obedience and the Love which inspired them are not. In the Father’s Eyes, the Son-made-Man, Loves always unto Death. The Patriot who regretted that he had only One (1) Life to-give-to his Country, would have Loved to have made his Sacrifice Eternal. Being Man, he could not do it. But Christ, being God, and Man, could.
The Mass, therefore, looks ‘Backward’ and ‘Forward’. Because we Live in-Time, and can use only Earthly Symbols, we see Successively, that which is but One (1) Eternal Movement of Love. If a Motion Picture Reel were endowed-with Consciousness, it would See and Understand the Story at-once; but we do not grasp it until we see it Unfolded-upon the Screen. So it is with the Love by which: Christ prepared-for His-Coming, in the Old Testament, Offered Himself on Calvary, and Now ‘Re-presents’ it in-Sacrifice, in the Mass.
The Mass, therefore, is not ‘Another’ Immolation, but a ‘New’ Presentation-of the Eternal Victim, and its application-to us. To-assist-at Mass is the same-as to-assist-at Calvary. But there are differences.
On the Cross, Our Lord ‘Offered’ Himself for all Mankind; in the Mass, we make Application-of that Death to-Ourselves, and Unite (1) Our Sacrifice, with His. The Disadvantage of not having lived at the Time-of Christ, is Nullified-by the Mass. On the Cross, He ‘Potentially’ Redeemed all Humanity; in the Mass, we ‘Actualize’ that Redemption. Calvary happened-at a Definite Moment in-Time, and on a Particular Hill in-Space. The Mass, ‘Temporalizes’ and ‘Spatializes’ that Eternal Act of Love.
The Sacrifice of Calvary was Offered-up in a Bloody-Manner by the Separation-of His Blood from His Body. In the Mass, this Death is ‘Mystically’ and ‘Sacramentally’ presented-in an Unbloody-Manner, by the ‘Separate’ Consecration of Bread and Wine. The Two (2) are not Consecrated-together by such Words-as “This is My Body and My Blood”; rather, following the Words-of Our Lord: “This is My Body” is said over the Bread; then, “This is My Blood” is said over the Wine. The Separate Consecration, is a kind of Mystical Sword, dividing Body and Blood, which is the way Our Lord Died on Calvary.



The purpose of Mass is to worship and give thanks and praise to God the Father, with and through his Son, Jesus Christ.


and the Holy Spirit


Almighty God, bring the kingdom of Christ, your anointed one, to its fullness. May the perfect offering of your Son, eternal priest of the new Jerusalem, be offered in every place to your name, and make all nations a holy people for you.



A Church is a non-political gathering of diverse members of the local community for the purposes of improving the moral character of the participants, giving appropriate worship to God, giving thanks for blessings received, providing for the religious education of the young, and improving the lot of the poor through the redistribution of funds donated.

This Church is a community that also gathers for Mass at regular intervals to worship God together.

We “build the community” by inviting people to come to Sunday School and to RCIA. :slight_smile:


I have been reading the various replies, and perhaps we are all missing the point. Our Lord Himself said the first Mass, and in doing so gave us His own Body & Blood to nourish us on our journey. And that is why I go to Mass, - to share in that great banquet, to become one with Christ, and to have Him become one with me. I really think that is the real reason we all go to Mass," that Christ may abide in us, and we in Him" God bless


In our RCIA classes (9 years ago), we were taught that the purpose of Mass is to receive Christ.


But then, why do we receive Christ? If that seems a little basic, well, sometimes I think we have to go there.


I couldn’t agree more. I’m all for building community in a parish, but there are plenty of opportunities outside Mass to do so. For example, my daughter starts Pre-K this fall at Catholic school, and each family is required to volunteer at a certain amount of events per year. This is what builds community–I have always viewed Mass as the one hour per week we should devote solely to the Lord.


Right. So, no one would say, “Let’s volunteer at the shelter to build our family community.” That grossly confuses the whole point. Rather, it is better to say, “Let’s volunteer at the shelter to help those in need.” By doing that as a family, it is highly likely that a second effect of that will indeed be a stronger family. But that is not why you do it, or it shouldn’t be.


For example if we pay thousands of dollars for Catholic preschool? And what if we don’t b/c we are SAHMs and don’t want our kids going to 5 day per week all day daycare, I mean preschool? I have been trying to find opportunities to build community and fellowship with other Catholics for some time and have not found a way to do so at my Church.


What about adult faith formation/catechism?


They do not offer childcare and I have three young children. They have an adult faith formation on one Sunday morning a month, for an hour before the 10am Mass but no childcare. They also have a women’s Bible study Tuesday mornings and do not offer childcare. I have asked if I can bring my 3 year old with me and was told no, that it’s not “child friendly”. I need catechesis badly and have had to give it to myself with books and the internet.


The purpose of mass is to worship God.


Why not start a mothers group. We did that years ago after my third was born. We met once a week in the church basement. We had an older woman watch the kids in a adjoining room but the kids were free to come to mom if need be. All it took for start up was the donation of some toys and a large area rug that could be rolled up for the kids to sit on. I think we chipped in $5 a week to pay for snacks and to give the woman a small stipend. We would pray to start and then we had a topic. Sometimes we would read an article and discuss it. Sometimes we had a speaker. Most of the topics were related to parenting but they came from a Catholic perspective. That was over 28 years ago and the group is still in existence and a second group started many years ago. I like to think this was/is one of the reasons we have a vibrant parish with lots of families attending Mass.


It’s not that easy these days. No one can do anything involving children unless they go through VIRTUS training (3 hrs) which is held infrequently and usually not a short drive. I’m pretty sure this is why my Parish does not offer childcare for anything.

Any who, I don’t want to derail the thread. I’m still trying to fully understand the purpose of the Mass but it makes me terribly sad that I attend with all these people and don’t know any of them. I strongly believe that we are supposed to be a community, not just strangers who receive Jesus together and then go our separate ways.


Do whatever it is that you think others should be doing. For example, if you think people should be greeting each other as they come in or go out of the building, you could do that. Some things take time to get established, but it doesn’t cost anything to just start smiling and saying “hello” to people.

Obviously you don’t want to be chatting inside the Church itself, but you can certainly strike up a conversation outside. :slight_smile:

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