Because I Can Always Go to Mass

Drink too much last night? You can go to Mass this morning. Argue stupidly with your spouse about matters that seem trivial in the new day’s light? Christ awaits you in the Eucharist. Thrashing over a problematic relationship or a financial problem? Somewhere right now a priest is saying Mass. Pinwheeling through life without a clear sense of direction at work, at home, in love or friendship? The church door is unlocked somewhere near you, and Mass is about to begin.

It is a glorious spring morning in Massachusetts, and this train of thought rumbled through my brain as I parked my car on Cabot Street and looked up at friends entering St. Mary’s ahead of me. Daily Mass is not an obligation. It is not something you do for “extra credit” and it never quite feels like “just a habit.” It is an anchor to windward, a dependable oasis, the place I’m always glad I came back to.

This morning I kept looking around for my friend Bob, who wrote a couple of touching comments on a recent post of mine that has caused some heartache (the post, not Bob’s comments). Bob wasn’t there. (He runs his own business, has three young kids and a wife who works too—under the circumstances, who could possibly have the time? But he’s often there anyway, in the back on the left.) I particularly wanted to see him this morning, but others were there, and it was good to see them: Frankie G. in the front row as always, beside Chris and just ahead of Phyllis and Henry. Jolyne and Ferde and Heidi just behind me. And Dottie at the other end of my pew, and Flo and Maria directly across the center aisle. I love seeing Bill and Joe and Tom, and Lorrie, John, and Patty too. Brothers Tony, Frank, and John are usually side by side behind me to the left, but Frank was AWOL today. (He’s serving at a 9 a.m. funeral Mass.) And others. Many others. Morning Masses at 7 a.m. in Beverly draw between fifty and a hundred people, a tribute to Father Barnes and also to the Catholic bloodlines of Beverly, which has been favored by many, many Irish and Italian families over the past couple of centuries. I honestly consider each of the “regulars” a friend.

Becoming a Catholic is just absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me. And daily Mass, with the friendship we all share, is the one place each day where I am truly fed.

  • Mary

    Unfortunately, I'm not able to attend Daily Mass due to working. I do remember going to Daily Mass during the summer when I was in high school, but I only went one time. There weren't very many people there, and when I came in, they all looked at me as if saying, "What are you doing here? You're not a part of us." I know that was just my teenage insecurities, but it was NOT a good feeling. I felt very self conscious and unwelcome. My parents attend Mass every day…and I mean every day! I am looking forward to having the opportunity to attend Daily Mass when school is not in session. I have to shake that unpleasant memory!

  • Julie Cragon

    I don't go every day either but I love when I do go how the people are still in their same places and how my place awaits me as if Jesus is saying, "I knew you'd eventually show up so I saved your spot." I can only hope that no matter how sporadic my spiritual life is, He'll hold that same spot for me in the end.

  • Christine the Soccer Mom

    One other thing that's there: Confession. I had an argument with someone just before having to leave for Mass – and I provided a very bad example to some children who were there. I was distraught and went to our parish, which has Adoration on Wednesday afternoons, and knelt before the Lord, holding back tears because I knew my soul was in no state to receive Him in the Blessed Sacrament.My older daughter came into the chapel, leaned over, and whispered, "Father is hearing Confession. I'm going." Sweetest words I could have heard at that moment. I gathered myself up and went to wait for her to be done, and then went and unloaded everything at the feet of the Lord in the Confessional. I couldn't thank Father enough for being there, at a time that is not advertised at a scheduled Confession. He told me after Mass that he's likely going to add it as a regular time so we've got more than 30 minutes on Saturday. (That always turns into 45-50 then, anyway.)I'm grateful to have Confession, so I can pour myself out to Jesus and know His healing.

  • Duane

    As I'm discerning joining the Church I've found the availability of daily mass to be so wonderful. My schedule doesn't permit me to attend regularly, but I know when the schedule does open the Mass is there. It is one of the most welcoming aspects of Catholicism.

  • Webster Bull

    Thanks to all, and especially to Duane: You have reminded me of my six months' discernment, when I was in RCIA and went to mass almost every day. Of course, I could not receive communion but I participated as fully as I could. And I made an interesting discovery. I was the one in discernment, yes, but my daily "witness" was a powerful example for others. My one piece of advice is: Always sit in the same pew, same seat. People will begin to notice you and it will help build relationships. That's how I met my buddy Ferde, and so many others — in those months of discernment. I know some people have had the experience that the daily mass crowd SEEMS unwelcoming. But I would bet that is a misinterpretation almost every time. People at daily mass are heartened, moved, thrilled to see others who want to be at daily mass. It lifts my heart every time I see 60-70-80 even 100 people in line for communion at 7 am in our church.

  • EPG

    Hey, I'm not even a Catholic, and I like daily Mass. There's a parish run by Franciscans not far from my office, with daily Mass just after noon. Even though I am not eligible to receive, just being in the beautiful old church, hearing the familiary prayers (not so different from what we Episcopalians do) and hearing a two minute homily can be a most welcome reminder of what lies beyond our insane daily routines.And then, last time I was in Boston, I attended daily Mass at the St. Francis Chapel in the Prudential Center. Well worth it, if you happen to be in that part of town on a weekday morning.

  • Frank

    The first time I went to daily mass, I figured I would be the only one there. Duh! I went anyway and was pleasantly surprised that I was not alone. Thankfully, there is a parish near where I work and the daily mass is during my lunch break. More like 20-25 people usually attend.

  • corinne

    Yes, it is a true blessing to attend daily Mass!!!! I love going to the 9am Mass at St Rose of Lima church in Topsfield…my parish for many years :)

  • Anonymous

    I hadn't been to daily Mass since my college days, but loved reading Webster's detailed account about my own parish and the most interesting assortment of characters! I vowed to go at least once, during Lent. Then, two dear friends had cancer surgeries a day apart and I went both mornings. It meant a lot to them and I was surprised at how easy it was to fit into the day. During Holy Week, Ferde did many of the readings and I appreciated knowing about his background as an actor. My experience of St. Mary's has been much enhanced thanks to this blog!Sheila

  • Allison

    @Christine the Soccer Mom. One line I read recently has stuck with me (not sure of the author) paraphrasing – why are the lines at communion so much longer than the lines at the confessional. The Eucharist is beautiful but it's "partner" Reconciliation needs to be part of this process.

  • Jerry

    I enjoyed daily mass at 5 PM for years, but when I changed jobs, I was no longer able to make it at 5 PM. I stopped going for a while, but missed it so badly, especially the graces that I got to make it through each day. I decided to go to completely change my sleeping habits and start going to the 6:30 AM Mass. Getting up an hour earlier was a HUGE sacrifice for me, but it is SO worth it for a wonderful way to start off my day. If only there were more people under 60 there…

  • Anonymous

    Webster:I'm only surprised that you know the names of all these other people. I have yet to be in a parish where anyone actually talks to you. (In my current parish, that includes the priest.)

  • Webster Bull

    @ Anonymous 1:37, Maybe I'm more talkative myself? Also, I'm a weekend lector and weekday altar server, so I have to "do business" with some of these folks. Also, some are in men's group with me. Some are in CL "School of Community." Some I see at Adoration. Some talk outside church after mass. We're a community of friends, is the best way to put it.

  • markie works

    I Love That We have the"GET TO GO TO MASS !" outlook,rather than 'Have to go attitude ' Jesus is soooooooo merciful and kind to want to be with us every second :-)

  • Anonymous

    My wife and I attend 6:30 AM Mass every day and have for the past 18 years. There is no better way to start your day. Reflect on your imperfections, Praise God for your blessings, beg for help in life's challenges and – most importantly – receive the body of Christ to start the day's journey.We are fortunate to attend a traditional / orthodox parish that prays the Memorarae or Prayer to St Michael at the recessional. I am a stronger spiritual person, out in the world, because of daily mass. God Bless our Church.

  • Anonymous

    I see the people at daily Mass differently than some people that have posted see them. They (we) seem to me throw-backs to a time when we went to Mass to adore and receive Jesus, and the church was silent out of respect for HIS presence. But thank you for bringing this up. I'll try to be more welcoming to strangers and the regulars.

  • Patrick

    Timely post. I am fortunate to work near a parish that has daily mass at 12 noon. I can walk there. I had been going regularly during lent, but not since Easter. I've been dealing with a lot in my life since then, and I realized today when I needed God the most I turned away. I went to daily mass today and then read your post afterwards. I feel so much better.

  • Anonymous

    I love daily mass, I call myself a "mass addict" there is no better way to start the day.

  • cathyf

    We have school mass on Wednesday mornings. Yesterday was the first Wednesday after First Communion, so the 2nd graders wore their finery and crowned the Blessed Mother. For the homily, Father surveyed them about receiving the Eucharist: "awesome," "fantastic," "wonderful"…The best part is being behind the kids, though. I sit right behind the 4th graders, who are kind of a "challenging" class. (The 2nd grade teacher, whose been there for about 25 years, is famous for, at some point during the year, losing her temper with each class and telling them that they are the worst 2nd grade class ever!. She hasn't said this in 2 years, though. My kids refer to this current 4th grade class as the last worst 2nd grade ever!) Anyway, it's just the boys, usually, since all of the 4th grade girls sing in the choir and are in the loft. They are pretty scruffy, and squirmy, but they try really hard to behave and mostly succeed. One Wednesday I watched one of the boys, who is very bright but totally flakey, pick up the missalette and thumb through it purposefully — upside down!. After a bit, he found what he was looking for, rotated the book to rightside-up, and read. All the while having no idea that anyone was watching him.Or one of the first graders. Last year's kindergarten class was another pretty challenging group. (About February the kindergarten teacher announced, rather frazzled, that purgatory was empty. As in tumbleweeds rolling down the streets. As in, some more people better die quick because she was sure she was going to have to offer up something the next day if not that same day after lunch!) So, anyway, the first graders are mostly calmed down — a couple of kids moved away, they all got a year older (from 5 to 6 is a 20% increase in age, after all!) But there is one little girl, Catherine. I have a special fondness for her because her parents know how to spell her name ;-), and also she has this smile that just lights up the room. But she is also a ringleader of whatever craziness is going on… The 1st graders sit in the front pews on the left, and one Wednesday last fall Catherine was right in the front pew on the center aisle. Our pastor preaches at the school masses with the portable mic and jumps around the church (don't get me started…) But anyway, on this one Wednesday, he was particularly animated, and he was bouncing around right there next to Catherine, with his shiny vestments flapping about. He was oblivious to her, and she was mesmerized — every time he got close she would leeeeean out of the pew and try to grab at the just-out-of-reach shiny stuff. Again, totally oblivious to everyone behind cracking up!

  • Anonymous

    Attending Mass for its own sake, not so much for "extra credits", but because our Lord Jesus is there, body and soul and divinity. Like EPG who is not even a Catholic, the awesome, warm feeling when you realize how physically, emotionally and spiritually close you are to our Lord. I often get goose bumps when I received the Eucharist, cover my face with my hands to hide the tears of gratitude for God's visit.There are days when I wake up feeling not being physically up to going to Mass because of my heart ailment. And then, after my morning prayers, I close my eyes and pause for a moment and in my mind's eyes see our Lord standing at the door of the church waiting for all of us. I can see Him being dimly lit, smiling .. . anticipating. . . welcoming those who comes in one by one. . .With courage and physical effort, I managed to go to Mass. It's like that, always a daily struggle because of my illness. And so I spend sometime thanking our Lord again for calling me to worship, for giving me the strength, the means to be with Him in the Mass.

  • Fan of Schall

    I couldn't help notice men wearing shorts coming out of Mass. I do not like the lectures from the priests during the mass about dressing respectfully for the Lord but have mixed feelings. I sure like wearing shorts out at the beach on a July or August Sunday.

  • Anonymous

    20-25 people attending a 6:45 Mass that's what we have here. Sitting always in the same pew, same seat, is definitely a daily "witness". People must have noticed me, but it took 2 years before somebody came forward after Mass one day and shook my hand and introduced herself. I had given up hope of that ever happening, but it didn't keep me fro going every day. Now I have several friends, we sometimes gab after Mass outside. As for the priests, when anew one would come, I made it a point to introduce myself. That has worked out very well. You can even snag one for an unscheduled confession.

  • cathyf

    Oh, I forgot to report on last year's school mass May crowning…At our school masses each class takes a week, reading the readings and petitions, taking up the gifts, serving as ushers. All the way down to the first graders. Since the littlest kids kids are several feet shorter than the lectern, we have a big rubbermaid stepstool. So at last year's crowning the 2nd graders processed in with great pomp and circumstance (well as much gravitas as you can summon when you are 3.5 feet tall!) and got to the front, and we all realized "oh no!" that the stepstool was on the other side of the sanctuary. Our priest recognized the problem immediately, and strode over and effortlessly hoisted the little one up so she could put the crown on the Blessed Mom's beaming head, while we all grinned.This year we had a separate step-ladder over in front of Mary's altar…

  • William a sinner. Most unlearned. The Least of all the faithful…

    Read Scott Hahn's "The Lamb's Supper" and "Our Father's Plan" and you will not want to miss Mass ever again and will want to be there every day, for there is where Eternity Touches Time and Space every day throughout the world and God dwells with man Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity until the end of the age…

  • Stefanie

    My dad is pretty much a daily Mass person. Yes, it is important to sit in the same pew, same section — that is indeed how most of the daily Mass folks will identify you. My Dad is not a talker by any means, but I've been amazed at how much he knows about the daily folks (and they him). Sometimes this revelation occurs at the prayers of the faithful — the intercessions — at our parish, the 'floor is open' to anyone calling out a prayer request. It's so much more personal.Webster, two in our current RCIA group, LOVE daily Mass. They describe it exactly as you did!I'm hopeful I can start attending daily Mass in the Fall when my youngest starts college. I'll be taking her there every day and wouldn't you know it, there's a Catholic church right across the street from it. (right now I'm co-facilitating an evening bible study at that same parish, so the Holy Spirit has opened up a place of friendship for me ahead of time) Yay!

  • Maria

    When I was a child, I attended daily Mass for several years. My Mother drove me to Mass. I becamse unemployed last September and began attending daily Mass. I am convinced that the Eucharist re-created my heart. Through God's grace, I began a new job a month ago and am thus unable to attend Mass daily. I leave too early and am home too late. I now feel starved, and somewhat frantic, as I cannot receive daily Communion. I cannot naviagte the world without Him…