The requirement to attend mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation is the first precept of the Catholic Faith:
“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor” requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days. (2042)
About 2 years ago, I began to faithfully fulfill this minimal obligation. Prior to that, I did attend mass frequently, but if I missed every now and then, it was OK with me. In fact, I used to volunteer to stay home with the twins when they were much younger so that my wife and oldest daughter could go to mass in peace. Wasn’t that nice of me? Anyway, it wasn’t that I hated going to mass, I just didn’t “enjoy” myself. I was like many who believed that the mass was about me and my needs rather than an opportunity to “commemorate the resurrection of the Lord.” If I wasn’t entertained or didn’t “get anything out of it,” I didn’t see the point in attending. However, thanks to several blessings, not the least of which is the example shown by my wife, I rediscovered the true meaning of the mass and don’t miss a Sunday, even on vacation. I even sacrificed by attending an evening mass once at a neighboring parish which has a showy band for its music. I really don’t like it when I attend a mass and a rock concert breaks out. But that is a topic for another time. Weekly mass has become, for me, an opportunity to worship our Lord and receive the gift of the Eucharist. I now get as much from the weekly mass as I put into it and it is such a blessing to attend every week.
After I started to understand the mass and all its gifts, I would occasionally attend a weekday mass at either St. Francis de Sales in Lebanon or at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati, close to my office at UC. I actually made my first confession in 30 years to a priest at the Cathedral so it will always have a special place in my heart. I attended daily mass when the mood struck me but with no consistency or compelling urge to do so. However, just over 9 weeks ago I looked at my calendar for the week and saw two glorious things. First, my boss was out of town all week. Second, because she was out of town, all my morning meetings were cancelled. I decided on the spur of the moment that I would attend daily mass every day that week and see how I liked it.
During that week I attended the 7 a.m. mass at St. Gertrude church in Madeira. I was surprised by how many people were at mass. There were probably over 30 people every day, mostly the same ones day after day. The next week, I decided to continue morning mass but was challenged one day with a meeting away from my office that interfered with 7 a.m. mass. Using www.masstimes.org, I found a church near my meeting location that had a 6:30 a.m. mass. I went there instead that day and returned to St. Gertrude for the rest of the week. I next found that I could still get to mass before a 7 a.m. meeting if I went to 6 a.m. mass at St. Xavier in downtown Cincinnati. I figured, “what kind of nut goes to 6 a.m. mass in the middle of the week?” Evidently, there are about 25-35 nuts who get up that early every day and I had become one of them.
After I figured out that I could leave my house by 6:15 every day and still get to the Cathedral before 7 a.m., I have consistently attended mass there along with the same 20-25 people. There is the women who reads the entrance and communion antiphons every day. There is the guy who always comes in with his backpack and the lady with her rustling Wal-Mart bags. There is the woman who wears a mantilla, sits right up front and, for some reason, holds a small doll throughout the mass. They are all there, every day, worshipping God through the mass.
There are all kinds of ways to build your relationship with God. I have found that attending daily mass has brought me closer to Him and is a great way to start my day. Try it for a week and let me know what you think.