Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Getting to Holy Mass

Yesterday I was at the gym to work out.  I found myself in conversation with a young man (age 19) whose grandfather had recently passed away. I asked the young man about his grandfather and I offered my condolences and assurance of my prayers.  As we spoke I had the opportunity to discuss the issue of Mass attendance - the young man said he would like to get back to attending Mass on a regular basis.  Of course I invited him to St. Jerome's and let him know that I looked forward to seeing him on Sunday.

This brief conversation cause me to reflect on reasons why many people and especially young people have stopped attending Mass.  As I often do when I reflect on such things, I did a search of the things that others think about these issues.  I came across a series of radio broadcasts (two weeks worth at fifteen minutes each - listen to them here - Feb. 3 - Feb. 14).  Peter Herbeck, who is the presenter of these broadcasts, reflects on Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Read what Pope Francis says at the very beginning of his exhortation:

     "The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
      "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”." (Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, par. 2 - 3.)

There it is!  Our lives are consumed by so many things that there is no room for God, no room for Jesus Christ! How sad!

I believe that we must respond to our Holy Father's invitation and open ourselves to an renewed encounter with Jesus Christ. The things of this world cannot and will never provide all that Jesus Christ can provide us: love, joy, & peace.  This is the purpose of the Holy Mass: to provide a place where we can experience the love, joy, & peace of Jesus Christ.  This is the reason for attendance at Holy Mass each Sunday.  AND if this IS the reason, AND if Jesus does bestow these gifts then NOTHING will stop us from attending Holy Mass each Sunday.