It is right and proper, and indeed, as the Book of Common Prayer might say, our bounden duty, at all times and in all places to worship the Lord. But do we ever stop to ask ourselves why? After all, God knows we love Him (or that we don’t), and He certainly knows our sins, and the quality of our repentance. When I put this to a friend whom I meet when I go to my local Catholic Church, she replied simply that it would be a ‘mortal sin’ to miss Mass. Well, no doubt that’s a reason to go to Mass, but it struck me as a sad one. To go to be with God and to receive His Son’s body and blood because otherwise one will be punished. Really?
So I asked myself why I go, and I know the answer – I go for one main reason and then one subsidiary reason which is so closely connected I am not really sure it is a second reason at all. I go because I love God. The Divine Liturgy is the model of the Heavenly Liturgy as we see it in the Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation). There is a wonderful account here, which shows how the Mass is the Bible in action. The resources page of my good friend Servus Fidelis, is also a help in understanding these matters, as is the ‘brief tour’ of my friend The Lonely Pilgrim.
I hear the Word of God, but I also experience Him in action. The guides I have just mentioned will explain to those interested precisely how the Mass is more than just a commemoration (although it is that too), and why it all points to the Eucharist which for me is the moment of Truth.
I don’t want to get into confessional differences here, as I can only speak of what I know. I know that to Catholics under the headship of Rome the Mass I attend is not considered a proper Mass, and I don’t want to go there, any more than I want to enter into the argument of how reverent it is to stand in a queue to received the Lord in my hand whilst I stand there. When I receive Him I do so at the High Altar, kneeling before His majesty, and I receive Him on my tongue because that is what is done on my tradition. And when I receive Him I can say nothing of what happens as it is beyond words. But for those moments, I am lost to the world and the world is lost to me. I know in a way beyond explanation (and which has no need of it) that He is in me and I am in Him.
It is almost with a feeling of sadness that I come to the post Eucharistic hymn and the dismissal of the people. Where I worship, the priest stops after the Eucharist and sits down and all is still; that moment tells me why I am there, and as far as I am concerned, the silence cannot be long enough.
That is why I am at Mass. I am with the Lord I love and who loves me – so of course I go with joy. I put on my best dress (and hat), and I go with a smile as to the Wedding Feast of the Lord – which it is. I would not miss it for anything.