To Whom Shall We Go?

His Christmas card from 2008 had brought good news: he had landed a very prestigious and high-paying job as a geologist — the profession he cherished — at a mining exploration company in Montana.  I was so happy for him, a friend since high school.  He had explained in his card that the job was three weeks at a time, in a very isolated area of the mountains, then a week back home in Illinois with his wife and three children.  He regretted being away, but he and his wife had agreed this career opportunity was well worth it.

Then came this year’s Christmas card with the news he had quit that job!  Was it the money? Hardly, the card explained, since the salary was exceptional.  Lack of challenge? Just the opposite, the news went on, as he really enjoyed the work.  Why, then, had he quit?

Listen to this:  “I missed my wife and kids, and I missed Sunday Mass.  Up in the mountains, at the site, we were over a hundred miles from the nearest Catholic Church, so I could only go the Mass one Sunday a month, when I was home.  The job — as much as I loved it — was ruining my marriage, my family, and my faith.  It had to go!”

Talk about an inspirational Christmas card!

The power, the meaning, the beauty, the necessity of Sunday Mass. . . Just ask my friend.

Anybody fifty or older can remember when faithful attendance at Sunday Mass was the norm for all Catholics.  To miss Sunday Eucharist, unless you were sick, was unheard of.  To be a “practicing Catholic” meant you were at Mass every Sunday.  Over 75% of Catholics went to Mass every Sunday.

That should still be the case. . . but, sadly, it is not.  Now, the studies tell us, only one-third of us go weekly.

If you want your faith to wither up and die, quit going to Sunday Mass.  As the body will die without food, the soul will expire without nourishment.  That sustenance comes at the Sunday Eucharist.

How’s this for a New Year’s Resolution?  Get back to Sunday Mass!

You reading this probably already do it.  Keep it up.

How about giving this article to someone who no longer goes?  Get ready for the excuses:

– “Sunday is our only free time together.” (Great, what better way to spend that time than by praying together at Mass).

– “I pray my own way.” (Nice idea.  But, odds are, you don’t).

– “The sermon is boring.” (You may have a point).

– “I hate all the changes at Mass.” (see below)

– “I want more changes at Mass.” (see above)

– “Until the church makes some changes in its teaching, I’m staying away.” (But, don’t we go to Mass to ask God to change us, not to tell God how we want Him and His Church to change to suit us?)

– “everybody there is a hypocrite and always judging me.” (Who’s judging whom here?)

. . . and the list goes on.  And the simple fact remains: the Eucharist is the most beautiful, powerful prayer that we have.  To miss it is to miss Jesus — His Word, His people, His presence, His Body and Blood.

I read a story once of a beautiful mother of five children, whose devoted husband died of TB while the two of them were on a business trip to Italy.  Until the next ship left to take her back to her home here in New York, she stayed with an Italian family, the Filicchi’s.  Even though she was not a Catholic, she went with them every day to Mass, and there experienced a closeness to the Lord.  She longed to receive Holy Communion as a Catholic.  When she finally returned home, she took instructions in the faith and entered the Church.  She described her first holy communion as the happiest day of her life, and never missed the Eucharist any day the rest of her years.

Her name is Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first native born American saint, and last Monday was her feast day.

There it is again: the mystery, awe, magnetism, beauty and power of the Eucharist.

A blessed New Year!  See you at Sunday Mass!

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4 Responses to “To Whom Shall We Go?”

  1. sarah says:

    Thank you! I am a 28 year old mother and wife and this was a very powerful message. I go to church every Sunday but have many family members who do not. I pray that they will come back home and find how important it is to make time for mass!

  2. chris says:

    until this past advent season, most of those excuses were coming from me. i’m a faithful catholic but was quickly losing interest in fighting with my children (3&4) who were never quiet or still in mass and i often left mass feeling frustrated and ashamed. i never felt fully prepared to receive the eucharist because i did not want to approach Christ in such an irritable state.

    i promised my husband that we’d go to mass as a family throughout the advent season and i am oh so very thankful that i did. this comment:

    “If you want your faith to wither up and die, quit going to Sunday Mass. As the body will die without food, the soul will expire without nourishment. That sustenance comes at the Sunday Eucharist.”

    is SO true. my faith had been withering due to lack of spiritual nourishment and after attending weekly mass for the last several weeks, my spirit feels alive again thanks to Christ’s nourishment.

  3. Tony H says:

    Archbishop, This is a wonderful article. I plan to share it with my students here in South Carolina, as this comes up frequently. I see you can still challenge me to think more clearly just as you did at Kenrick.

  4. Josh Dieterich says:

    Excellency,

    Thank you so much for this column! We miss you in Milwaukee, but through messages like this you still reach us, and are able to reach so many more. There is so much truth in this message this week, and I’m so happy to have read it.