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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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How Important is Going to Church?

One of the potentially deceptive phrases we use with each other is, “Did you go to church today?” or a variation of that question. As Americans, we like terseness and speed in our talk and in religious matters. I understand why people do not ask you, “Did you hear Christ speaking to you in the Gospel this Sunday?” “Did you enter into the death-resurrection of Christ internally and externally by participation in the Mass?” “Are you open to Christ coming to you in Communion?” Both the asking and the answering of these questions is longer and more complicated than the mere, “Did you go to church?” If we really believe in what we profess to believe— namely, that the living Christ, body and blood, comes to us in Communion— that the death and resurrection is re-presented to us in the Mass— that the living Christ speaks to us now in the Scriptures— would we behave as some of us do? Are we late for the Son of God coming into our midst? Do we dress properly for the occasion? Do we sing because our faith is strong, or at least follow the lyrics? Do we stay for a few extra minutes to thank God for coming to us in Holy Communion, including everything else that he gives us? St. Paul asks us, “What have you that you have not received, and if you receive it, why do you act as if you didn’t receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Do we have a priority in our lives that regulates everything else that we do in order to come to Mass on the Lord’s Day? In evaluating our privileges in this free society, I am reminded of St. Maximilian Kolbe and of the bishops and priests who clandestinely offered Mass in Chinese, Soviet and Vietnamese prisons; at great personal risk; prisoners surrendered their meager rations and bribed guards for a bit of bread and wine so that they “could go to church.” Their courage and fidelity stands in stark contradiction to our own casual attitude towards the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of all we do and are about in the Church. I am reminded, too, of the Protestant minister who said, “If I believed what you believe about the Eucharist, I would come down the aisle on my hands and knees to receive Christ.” How does our attitude compare? Do we simply, “go to church?”


2 Responses

  1. This is a great article.. Makes me understand the importance of Mass a bit better. Thanks 🙂

  2. Dear Fr Joe,

    It’s obvious – we all “go to church”
    The total lack of respect for The Blessed Sacrament is proof positive and ‘The Church’ is the biggest enemy of itself.

    If that wafer really IS Jesus Christ offered up for our sins then how can ‘lay people’ just dish it out as if it were a peanut cookie?

    Years ago we would receive communion, kneeling in true reverential posture, on our tongues given only by the anointed hands of a priest and with all precautions taken to ensure that, if dropped, The Blessed Sacrament was protected from falling to the floor.

    Today it’s OK to get it for another and just pop it in his top pocket.

    You brought it on yourselves by dumbing down the enormity of the real truth to a sanitised and undefined version that would be acceptable to the emotional sensitivities of the Great American Public, and now we have a sort of free for all.

    So it really is: “Did you go to Church today?” and never again will it be: “Did you put yourself in the immediate presence of your creator?”

    Sadly, Paul.

    FATHER JOE: 75% of our people in the U.S. fail to regularly go to Sunday Mass. As for those who do, there are definite rubrics about the reception of the Eucharist. We are to consume it and not to “pop it into a pocket.” As for our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, I find my people to be devout and circumspect about what they are doing.

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