Now that COVID is waning, it is time for all to return to Mass on Sunday. We should not take the ability to go to Church on Sunday for granted. In the early days of the Church, Christians did not enjoy the freedom of religion that we enjoy today in the United States. The Roman authorities regularly persecuted them for attending Mass. One story is told of a Mass in 303 where 49 Christians suffered torture and martyrdom because they defied the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s order not to celebrate the Eucharist on Sunday. When asked why they had disobeyed the emperor, one of them said, “Without Sunday, we cannot live.”
In the past century, Catholics in former Communist countries like the Soviet Union or Vietnam were persecuted for practicing their faith. Today in Egypt, China, North Korea, Iraq, Sudan, and countless other areas, Catholics risk their lives and travel for hours to attend Sunday Mass. We give thanks to God that we do not have to put our lives in jeopardy to attend Mass at our local parish. Unlike some in poor areas, we rejoice that we do not have to walk for miles, over hills, or on inadequate dirt roads to attend. Most of us can walk safely down the street or take a short drive to arrive at our beloved parish.
I grew up in the middle of the last century. In my family, going to Mass on Sunday was about as optional as breathing. It was not a matter of authoritarian parents or social pressure, but rather a sense of how important the Sunday Eucharist was for our family identity and survival. To miss Mass is to stop breathing; it is the sure path to spiritual suffocation.
Just because Catholic Mass doesn't have mega projectors, or Hillsong-style music, or entertainment- oriented preaching, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have anything going on. The truth is that Mass is amazing and beautiful and rooted in the Bible, as well as Christian and Jewish history and tradition. Our Mass has been the same for two thousand years, it is rooted in history not in the current fashion. Each Mass contains a real miracle in the Eucharist. Each Mass is a chance to come physically in contact with our Savior through Holy Communion. Nothing is boring about Mass if you enter into the prayer and the miracle of it deeply. Do not expect to be entertained – that is not the purpose of our worship. Every Catholic Mass around the world and throughout history is spiritually united, which is the reason we stay true to it's structure. Our goal is to pray profoundly and join in the miracle of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. Mass is the opportunity to sit in the upper room with Jesus when he says, "This is my Body. This is my blood." It is a holy moment shared with all who are Catholic. It is deeply prayerful and profoundly moving.
The priests and deacons at Saint Brigid are so excited to welcome you back! See you Sunday because, "Without Sunday, we cannot live."