The following is a repeat of one of my "Pastor's Desks" from last summer. It will be worthwhile to reflect upon it once again, now that we are in the midst of warm weather.
The Church gives us the obligation to come to Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days because it is good for us. It is like the obligation to eat foods that will nourish us. Without nourishment, a person will soon starve and die a very unpleasant death. Without spiritual nourishment one’s soul begins to starve and die, that is, lose the life of Grace.
The Mass is the unbloody Sacrifice of the Cross on Mt. Calvary. Our participation gains for us an increase in Grace (God’s life), provided we are free from serious sin. We become holy—more in the image of God. We are actually in the presence of our divine Savior who offers Himself up and sacrifices Himself for us and for the whole world. So, out of love for her children, the Church imposes the obligation to attend Mass. But, rather than just attend Mass, we should participate. This means that we listen, pray, and offer ourselves up through the priest. The extent to which we do this is the extent to which we realize the beauty of the Mass and the love of Jesus.
Thus, we can see the importance of our attitude and our preparation for Mass. First, do we make an effort to come to Church on time and stay to the very end? Not only is this good for us, but it is helpful to our brothers and sisters who already are in Church. Being on time gives us the full benefit of the whole Mass and reduces considerably any distractions that latecomers may cause to those praying and listening. In a movie theater, if it’s bad when many latecomers walk down the aisles and move into seats after the start of the picture, we can imagine how much worse it is when it happens during Mass.
Second, do we use our time to participate well, avoiding undue talk, movement, and noise? For the reasons already stated, it makes sense to have the proper deportment.
Third, do we dress appropriately? This is particularly worth considering during the warm weather. Although in our church we do not seem to have a problem in this area. Nevertheless it is good to think about it. God wants us in Church for Holy Mass and doesn’t look at what we are wearing; but how do we want to present ourselves to Him in His house? All we have to ask ourselves is—and I think that we are doing this—“Am I dressing to meet someone very special?” Indeed, we are meeting Someone very, very special in Church.
We have probably all heard someone say that it is better to be at Mass whether late, a little noisy, and/or sloppy than not to be there at all. However, knowing the Treasure, Who is there, makes us eager to be in Mass with our whole attention, with all of our hearts.