Fr. Britto's Blog

Why Sunday Mass

The Covid-19 virus has disrupted our lives and devastated our economy. Many of us keep wondering when we will be able to return to our “normal life” whatever it may look like. It also has affected deeply the practice of our Faith. In more than 38 years as a priest, I never imagined that we will shut down our churches and that people will not be able to receive the Eucharist. Things we have always taken for granted have become rarities. Even as I look forward to the day when we can have all our parishioners in church for Sunday Masses, I have a serious concern.

I have heard that if we keep doing something consistently for 21 or more days, we form a habit. Following that practice, we can also lose a habit. Having “watched Mass” on a TV or computer screen for almost five months, we may lose the habit of coming to Sunday Mass. This is my concern. In this column I want to reiterate the reasons why Sunday Mass should be a non-negotiable in the practice of our Faith.

To help all of us to make this commitment – even though it may mean “watching the Mass” on a screen for now - I am offering below what I consider are the valid reasons for faithfully participating in the Sunday Eucharist. 

  • When He gave us the Ten Commandments, the Lord said: “Thou shalt keep the Day of the Lord holy.” Unfortunately people do not hesitate to break this commandment even though they would feel bad about breaking any of the other commandments.
  • We are truly community at the Eucharist, just as the family becomes family around the dinner table. Sunday Mass makes the Church as one. The Fathers of the Church used to say: “The Church makes the Eucharist. The Eucharist makes the Church.”
  • We need to give thanks to God for the numerous gifts He grants us. There is no better way to give thanks to the Father than to offer the Eucharist.
  • In our everyday lives, we are moved by our own desires and live by our norms. When we participate in the Eucharist, we allow ourselves to be challenged by God’s Word in the context of the community. We consent to live by the community’s expectations and standards. Let us remember that there is no cheap grace. There is a cost to our discipleship.
  • We go to the Eucharist in response to Jesus’ summons: “Take and eat… Take and drink. Do this in memory of me.” If Jesus were to appear to us today and ask us to do something, will we say “No?”
  • The Eucharist is the food for our journey. Just as Elijah was fed by the Lord, just as the people of Israel were nourished by the Manna, we are fed by the Eucharist. Doctors tell us that we should not skip a meal even if we want to lose weight. Why would we deprive our soul of our heavenly food?
  • At the Sunday Eucharist, we can enhance and build up each other’s faith. God creates us as a member of families and communities, and He saves us as members of a community. The Eucharist is the meal par excellence of the community. You strengthen my faith by your participation at Mass just as I hopefully strengthen yours.
  • Even from a practical perspective, to be able to sit quietly and be centered is a luxury most moms and dads can’t afford. Parents with little children cannot enjoy this luxury. Sunday Mass supplies that privilege.
  • We are at the Sunday Eucharist because that is our tradition and it goes back to the Israelites and to the Early Church. Immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples gathered in homes to “break Bread” together. What we do today comes from an unbroken chain of tradition. In 1918, the Code of Canon Law set down in explicit terms that each Sunday of the year was a “holy day of obligation.” To miss Sunday Mass without a valid reason is to commit a mortal (serious) sin.

The Second Vatican Council in her document on the Sacred Liturgy had this to say about Sunday Mass (SC #106):

By a tradition handed down from the apostles, which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s resurrection, the Church celebrates the paschal mystery every eighth day, which day is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday. For on this day Christ’s faithful are bound to come together into one place. They should listen to the Word of God and take part in the Eucharist, thus calling to mind the passion, resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God who “has begotten them again, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead, unto a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

Laws are made for the spiritually immature. Laws are constituted to punish the lawbreakers. The Church makes Sunday Mass an obligation because people have not discovered the value of the Mass. Once we are spiritually mature, then we will go to Mass not out of a sense of obligation, but out of love.

The Eucharist is the greatest gift that the Lord has given us. It is a privilege to be invited to dine with the King. I pray that all of us will come to a deeper appreciation of the greatest Gift that the Lord has given us.

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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St. Paul of the Cross

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