Why Mass is so Important to Catholics - the Crux of the Matter


#1

OK, while talking to a friend the other day, I finally understood one of the big differences in our Church Services and why Catholics feel it is necessary.

As you probably know, the Catholic Church teaches that it is sinful to miss Mass on Sunday without a very, very good excuse.

Many Protestants chalk this up to typical RCC arrogance, since a lot of Christian churches don’t make their congregation go to Church each weekend. They encourage it, but they don’t claim it’s sinful to miss Church.

But here’s the crux of the matter.

There is a difference in a Catholic Mass and a Protestant Church service, other than the obvious. What does a non-Catholic Christian get out of a Church Service? They worship God, they learn more about God, through the bible, and they get a good fellowship with their fellow Christians. But a Protestant can worship God at any time and anywhere, through prayer. They can learn more about God with any Bible Study. They can receive this Fellowship with any Prayer Group or Bible Study Group. In summary, there’s nothing a Non-Catholic Christian can get out of their Church Service that they can’t get through other normal means. Am I accurate in this analysis?

But the Catholic Mass is different. Yes, we pray and worship, listening to readings from the Old Testament, the New, and also the Gospels and Psalms. We get all the Fellowship, ok, maybe most of the fellowship you see at Protestant Churches. But at the Mass, a Catholic receives the Eucharist, something they can’t do on their own. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic Worship and we must go to Mass to receive it (other than through some extra-ordinary means). And for a Catholic to believe that they can receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ and then reject it because they’d rather go fishing is rather blasphemous, wouldn’t you say?

Now, this is not a thread regarding what goes on during the Mass or how crazy Catholics are to believe such rubbish. It’s simply a discussion to help Catholics understand why other Christians may not appreicate our need for the Mass and also to help other Christians to understand just why the Mass is so important to our worship.

Does any of this make sense?


#2

Yes. All of that. But also let’s look at the enormity of Catholic fellowship.

The prayers we pray at Mass are the same prayers all over the world and they have been the same prayers for centuries. That is astronomically enormous!

Moreover we do not pray from ourselves. We do not make up things as we go along. We surrender ourselves to a Truth larger than ourselves in prayer to Jesus and with the Church which he established for us.


#3

Its a commandment too. Geeze. If anyone is “putting rules down” its God.

I dont understand the laxity about it outside of the Catholic Church.:frowning:


#4

Yes, but now you’re back to arguing Scripture. I think if another Christian understands why Catholics have a need for the Mass, even if they don’t agree with the One Sacrifice of the Mass, they will at least understand us a little better.

I’ve found that if I understand someone’s reasoning, even without agreeing them, I can dialog with them more ecumenically.


#5

I think this could be an interesting discussion.

Back when we were Protestant and started attending Mass, one of the first things we noticed is that the Mass is not MAN centered, it is Christ-centered.

In fact, sometimes men (and women) are almost superfluous in the Catholic Mass. The priest is not always a brilliant speaker. The musicians are not always very inspiring. Sometimes there aren’t even enough ushers, and somebody will have to step up and help out, and that volunteer might be wearing jeans and a t-shirt instead of an “usher suit.” And through the whole Mass, babies cry and children yell out amusing and sometimes embarrassing things. And of course, the phones ring and sing.

Mass is just not a very good “show” at all!

We learned that the entire focus of Mass is JESUS. He was there all the way through the Mass, and after the consecration, He was with us physically as well. That was really cool for Protestant like us, to actually SEE Jesus, the same Jesus that up until then, we had only seen on flannelgraphs.

Protestant worship services, on the other hand, are “man-centered.” They CLAIM to be Jesus-centered. They try to be Jesus-centered. But they’re not. The music is very man-centered, even though they tell the congregation to forget everything and worship Jesus. Instead, the congregation listens to a “group” or “soloists” sing about Jesus, and it’s awfully hard for most of us to “forget” about the musicians. Concerts are part of American culture, and I think that many people think about the musicians during the Praise and Worship time.

Then the pastor gives a very long message, and THAT message is why most Protestants attend church. They claim to want to hear the Word of God, but if the pastor isn’t teaching the Word of God they way they want to hear it, they get dissatisifed and either kick out the pastor, or move to another church.

It’s a show. In fact, at the megachurch in our city, the ads are out for “stage managers, sound techs, light techs, directors, etc.” to help create the “worship experience.”

But Mass isn’t a show at all. It’s our weekly meeting with Jesus Himself, our weekly joining of earth with heaven.

I know this sound very negative toward Protestant worship services. But remember, I was THERE for over 40 years, an evangelical of evangelicals! I even played the piano, so I know what went on “backstage.” I believe that Protestants sincerely want their worship service to be Christ centered . But because Christ is ONLY present in the Christians themselves–Christ In us, the hope of glory–the service will be man-centered. In the Protestant churches you HAVE to look at man to see Christ.


#6

Oh. I see. I would say that when you love someone you spend all the time you can with them.


#7

Cat, in regards to our non-chalance at the Mass, you are so right. I heard an analogy the other day that helped to explain it.

A man was flying to visit a friend in South Dakota. After picking the man up at the airport, they drove back to the friend’s house - on the way passing Mount Rushmore. The man was amazed at the image on the side of the mountain, but the friend drove by almost without even seeing it. It seems the friend drove by Mt. Rushmore each day for work, and was no longer amazed by the beautiful Scultpure.

That’s the trap that many Catholics fall into, and it is sad!!! We’ve grown so accustomed to the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that we no longer feel the need to fall on our knees and prostrate ourselves before the Lord in humble subjugation.


#8

I wonder if this is the reason so many marriages end in divorce.

Same old same old.:rolleyes:


#9

The reason it is a teaching of Jesus (through the Apostles & their successor bishops in Sacred Tradition) to attend Sunday Mass is because it benefits us, it is for our own good. Since God made us & knows what is best for us he gave us laws begining with Adam and continuing till today through the teaching authority Jesus established in his Church.

These laws benefit those who want to experience the gift of salvation which is the reason Jesus came to earth, died and rose for us. This gift of salvation liberates us from all that oppresses us, ESPECIALLY sin, that is, mortal sin that is addicting and enslaving (“He who commits sin is a slave to sin”).

The gift of salvation is received at baptism, “This prefigured baptism which saves you now.” 1 Ptr 3:18. It can be lost, however, when we sin gravely, or mortally.

Mortal sin is debilitating physically, emotionally, psychologically & spiritually. As Pope JPII said it makes one sick. This results in the damaging of healthy relationships with friends, family, co-workers etc. At worst it results in completely ruptured relationships including the breaking of criminal/civil laws where one is arrested for theft, drugs, murder etc & loses his job, house, marriage, kids.

And that’s just the temporal aspect. Losing our salvation means to lose our union with God. We “lose him” as one of the recent Popes said when we seriously sin, “I warn you … that those who do such things (murder etc) will not inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Gal 5:21).

Since we have lost our salvation on earth (unless we repent & confess to a priest) we are also telling God we don’t want him for all eternity and therefore place ourselves in the uneviable position of risking “gehenna, where the worm diest not”, i.e. hell, for all eternity when we die.

This is where the Mass, comes in to play. Jesus was good enough to institute the Eucharist at the Last Supper as a means of providing us with the grace to resist the seven capital sins which are constantly tempting us due to our fallen human nature. By ourselves it is very difficult if not impossible to successfully resist temptation to mortal sin long term.

cont’d


#10

Thank you Notworthy:thumbsup: I get it without agreeing:thumbsup:
I just hope this doesnt turn into a "My mass is better then your service:p " type of thread:(


#11

Thanks! The direction of the thread didn’t exactly follow my intentions, but if it helps make some things clearer, we can get back to that whole re-unification issue. You know, One Flock, One Shepherd!!!


#12

cont’d

By giving us the gift of himself at Mass in the Eucharist, as well as in the Blessed Sacrament, we now have the necessary grace to enable us to resist serious temptation so that we are no longer “enslaved” to sin, “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives… to let the oppressed go free…” (Lk 4:18, Is 61:1.)

The Mosaic Law did not provide the grace necessary for this liberation as man was not yet reconciled to God. It was more penitential, except of course for the commandments which apply to all men for all time. The Mosaic Law prefigured the Sacraments which now give us the grace to become saved & remain saved throughout our lifetime.

The Eucharist is the primary means of maintaining or keeping this salvation, “Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you” (Jn 6:53.) The Eucharist is the source & summit of the Church’s liturgical life because it is where we worship/praise God, thank him for all of his benefits, reconcile ourselves to him and ask for the graces we need.

The most important grace we can ask for is for the continuing gift of salvation, the being freed of mortal sin in order that we may experience the joy & happiness of being loved by God and serving him, e.g. at Mass and personal prayer, and our neighbor as he commands us. With the grace of the Eucharist received at Mass we now have the strength to resist strong temptation to sin thereby maintaining our salvation and being free to obey the commandments.

“Lord by your cross & resurrection you have set us free, you are the saviour of the world.” (Mass - Mystery of Faith - D) Set us free from what? Free from the enslavement to mortal sin.

When the commandments are obeyed this helps us to stay “saved” and prove our love for Jesus, “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.” (Jn 15:10). Graces from the Eucharist also provide the saved the strength to perform acts of heroic virtue. That is where Mother Teresa, for example, received the strength to pick up dying people from the streets for 50 yrs or so.

It is rare to hear of a non-Catholic performing such heroic deeds over a long period of time. The Eucharist is what gives Catholics the strength to live such lives of heroic virtue.

Additionally at Mass the Church wants the faithful to hear the oral word of God as preached by Apostles. This oral word of God is distinct though closely related to the written word of God as found in Scripture. This oral word of God which the Apostles learned directly from Jesus & the Holy Spirit, is summarized in the Catechisms of the Church as approved by the popes through the centuries. It is where we learn the teachings of Jesus as handed down through the Magisterium.

In summary form this is the Creed, Sacraments, the commandments and prayer. The first part, or initial proclamation, of the oral gospel is that which calls us to repentance in order to be saved from the slavery of sin. As mentioned earlier, this is achieved through baptism.

We are not always catechized at Mass as the homily is usually a commentary on or a re-reading of the readings, even though that is not what the Church wants, but that is another issue.

So this, in brief, is why God wants us to go to Sunday Mass. Not because he enjoys laying down arbitrary laws which enslave us, but precisely for just the opposite effect, that we may become free, liberated children of God thereby discovering who we really are as enlightened by his grace.


#13

There is a difference in a Catholic Mass and a Protestant Church service, other than the obvious. What does a non-Catholic Christian get out of a Church Service? They worship God, they learn more about God, through the bible, and they get a good fellowship with their fellow Christians. But a Protestant can worship God at any time and anywhere, through prayer. They can learn more about God with any Bible Study. They can receive this Fellowship with any Prayer Group or Bible Study Group. In summary, there’s nothing a Non-Catholic Christian can get out of their Church Service that they can’t get through other normal means. Am I accurate in this analysis?

You know, I’d say for the most part this is true for the churches in my area, especially the ones who claim to be “liberated” from denomination. But I’ll say this, too. And what I’m about to say probably happens in multitudes of churches across the U.S. The pastor of the church I used to go to…well, let’s just say it didn’t sit well with him when people missed service. Especially if they were on the Almighty Praise and Worship Team. You practically had beg and plead to go on vacation and you sure didn’t get to go without a guilt trip. If you were sick and would call to say you couldn’t be there, he’d pray for you on the phone, and say, “Feel better?” in this way that would make you feel guilty for saying no. I remember there were a couple of people that went to a service at another church one Sunday evening for some kind of special event. They pastor made the biggest deal out of it, guilted them till they practically cried, told them how disappointed he was in them.

You might say, “Good grief, who cares what this man thinks! Go on vacation! How sick!”

It is sick. I daresay there are are many charismatic, charming pastors who guilt their congegration into doing a lot of things. And, (and here’s my point) they care a lot more about church attendance than you might think. Is it the numbers? The money? Genuine concern for the people? I don’t know.


#14

In the book of Hebrews where it says “He who knew no sin became sin for us on the tree”–now that is the center of everything!

The best way I know to be saved is to go to that center.

Where is that center? How can you get there?

Mass!


#15

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