Are you like me? Have you ever made a New Year's resolution to lose ten pounds, and realize on June 1st you only have fifteen to go? New Year's resolutions can often follow this path. They are mostly directed to some type of desired physical change or activity. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get physically healthier; that is a good thing. As a spiritual father though, I want to propose a plan to help your spiritual health in 2016 and beyond.
The sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest and most necessary of prayers for our spiritual growth. The Mass is how God desires to be worshipped. The Mass is not man-made, but God-given. The Church has been doing it, since Jesus instituted it at the Last Supper – “Do this in remembrance of me.” Mass is the re-presentation (making present) of the once-for-all sacrifice offered on Calvary by Jesus to save us from our sins. This sacrifice saves us, if we allow it. When we receive communion we are receiving the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. He transforms us into Himself – He is continually perfecting us so that we may be “perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The Church teaches that we must fulfill the command of Jesus to “Do this in memory of me” by attending Sunday Mass (or the anticipatory Mass the night before). The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994, pp. 493-94) explains that Mass attendance on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is the first of the five precepts of the Church. These precepts also require receiving Communion at least once a year during the Easter season, confessing any mortal sin as a preparation for Communion, and observing the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence. These spell out the minimal responsibilities of a Catholic. To fail to fulfill them through our own fault, the Church teaches, is a serious sin. The Church, like a good Mother, commands us to do those things which are good for us, until we realize for ourselves that we cannot live without it.
If you feel like you are not getting anything out of Mass, then you might want to evaluate what you are putting into it. Arriving a few minutes early to pray and ask God to clear your mind and help you to enter in to this eternal and saving mystery of our faith is always a helpful aid. Use some of the resources on formed.org or read a book on the Mass to increase your knowledge and love.
Join me and Fr. Deitz on January 12th at either 9 a.m. at the Downtown church or at 7 p.m. at the Crane Road church, for “A Walk through the Mass.” We will help you see anew the deep biblical roots of the Mass and its rich history.
Make attendance of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the priority of your spiritual life this year. There are 8,760 hours in a year. God commands that you give Him back 58 hours of that time (Sunday and 6 Holy days of obligation which includes Christmas and Easter). This is less than 1% of the hours given to us that we have to give back. In this small sacrifice our love grows and we are formed into more loving and caring people. I promise you that your relationship with Our Lord will deepen if you offer Him these 58 hours. Make God and the worship of God at Holy Mass your number one priority this year. It is the most important resolution you can make.
More spiritual resolutions to come – Part II (prayer) and Part III (confession and living mercy).
I am a Catholic priest writing about Catholic things.