What Part of “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day” Don’t You Understand?

Ah, Summertime!

Time to kick back, forget to set the alarm clock, enjoy a leisurely breakfast over the morning paper….

BUT WAIT!  The clock is ticking….

and if you don’t hurry, you’ll NEVER make it to Mass on time!

What, you can pray as well out in nature, you say?  Blah, blah….

But here’s the thing:

God told us, in the Third Commandment, to “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day.”  That’s “holy” as in “pray.”  Devote that one day each week to God in a special way.  Make it a day of rest.  GO TO CHURCH.

Jesus showed us by his example the importance of keeping the Sabbath holy.  Jesus went to church on a regular basis.  Luke 4:16 says,

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom.

It was his custom to attend weekly services.  If Jesus made it a priority to attend services with other believers, shouldn’t we–his followers–do the same?

BUT WAIT:  There’s another reason.

Jesus founded His Church, and gave to the apostles and their successors authority to lead his followers, and to instruct them in the way they should go.

And the Church, knowing that people need one another, need to come together, and knowing that God Who is all-powerful and all-good asks this of us, imposes a requirement upon its adherents.  Catholics MUST attend Mass on Sundays.  You may go on weekdays, too, if you like–and that’s a good thing; but you MUST attend on Sunday.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the God-given authority of the Magisterium, the pope and bishops:

2033 The Magisterium of the Pastors of the Church in moral matters is ordinarily exercised in catechesis and preaching, with the help of the works of theologians and spiritual authors. Thus from generation to generation, under the aegis and vigilance of the pastors, the “deposit” of Christian moral teaching has been handed on, a deposit composed of a characteristic body of rules, commandments, and virtues proceeding from faith in Christ and animated by charity. Alongside the Creed and the Our Father, the basis for this catechesis has traditionally been the Decalogue which sets out the principles of moral life valid for all men.

2034 The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are “authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.” The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for.

So what the Church teaches, we must believe.  And when the Church imposes a discipline (such as mandatory attendance at the liturgy on Sundays), we must obey–understanding that it is our greater good that motivates the pope and bishops to make this demand.

There’s more:  The Catechism defines certain precepts to which faithful Catholics must adhere.  What’s a precept?

2041  The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.

And right at the top of that list of Precepts of the Church is this one:

2042  The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and 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.

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So there you go:

God orders you….

Jesus shows you….

The Church requires you….

…to get out of bed a little earlier and get thee to Mass, and to take full advantage of all those blessings and graces which are availed to you in the Sacraments.

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Oh, by the way…. I don’t want to hear about how it’s “boring” or you don’t “get anything out of it.”

  • First, if that’s the case, it’s your fault:  You are not fully participating, fully engaged in the miracle of the liturgy which is manifest before your eyes.  
  • But secondly, going to church is not something that you do in order to “get something”.  It’s not about YOU, it’s about GOD, and you attend Mass to GIVE something–to give all of yourself in prayer to a Heavenly Father who is deserving of our worship and praise.

See you in Church?

 


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