Sunday Mass is not entertainment, it is worship. Sunday Mass is not a show on a stage, it is prayer before an altar; it is not other people performing to please us, it is us performing worship to please God.
Sunday Mass is not so much what we get out of it, but what we give. Some say Mass is boring. Boredom is a state of mind for those who are disinterested or disengaged. The more a person puts into prayer, the more a person gets out of it.
Sunday Mass is not too much. There are 168 hours in a week, and Mass takes just one hour.
Sunday morning is not the one morning each week to sleep in. Sleep-in day is Saturday, not Sunday. We force ourselves to get up on time on work days and school days because it is so important to get a pay check and a good education. If we force ourselves to get up on weekdays, why would we allow ourselves to sleep in on Sundays? If we give ourselves a break on Sundays, it says that money and learning are more important than God and worship.
Sunday Mass attendance does not depend on the priest, musicians, or ushers. Sometimes people excuse themselves from Mass with the complaint that the homilies are bad, the musicians are weak, or the ushers are unfriendly. Our relationship with God and our weekly worship is so important that we dare not allow any person to stand in the way. If a personality or circumstance is an irritant or an obstacle to concentration or prayerfulness, one should not stop attending Mass, one could attend Mass elsewhere.
Sunday Mass is not such a long drive from our vacation spot. It is amazing how people will spend hours driving 100, 200, or more miles to go to the lake or the cabin, but will not drive fifteen or twenty minutes to go to church. If we can drive a long distance to go on vacation, we can drive a short distance to go to Mass.
Sunday Mass is the focal point of every weekend, especially vacation weekends. Our vacations are possible because God has richly blessed us, so if there ever was a good time to give special thanks, it is a get-away weekend. Therefore, the weekend schedule ought to revolve around the Mass, not recreational activities. Schedule Mass first, then everything else.
Sunday Mass outranks sports tournaments, team travel, and athletic practices. Sports is a religion in America. Game time is a ritual, gyms and arenas are temples, and stars are idolized. How is it that attendance for practice and games can be mandatory, while Mass attendance is not? Why is a positive attitude, teamwork, self-discipline, and 100 percent effort so critical in athletics, but not as important in the spiritual life? When it comes to Mass, where there is a will, there is a way! If a Sunday morning conflict exists, it is possible to attend Mass on Saturday evening, the early Mass on Sunday morning, and in some locations, on Sunday evening. It is idolatry to put anything in God’s place.
About Father Michael Van Sloun
Father Michael Van Sloun is pastor of St. Bartholomew Catholic Catholic Church in Wayzata, Minn. As a former school principal, high school instructor and athletic coach, he has always been a teacher. He now teaches the faith as a homilist, Bible study leader, retreat director, pilgrimage guide and author of numerous articles.
© 2011, Rev. Michael A. Van Sloun
Used with permission.