MANY of us ask that every Sunday. And countless baptized but lapsed Catholics don’t even bother asking. One survey estimated that 70 million Filipino Catholics often miss mass or don’t attend at all.
If one finds oneself asking that question, maybe one should read blogger Raul Nidoy’s one-page article, “Ten reasons there is nothing more important than Holy Mass.”
At <http://primacyofreason.blogspot.com/>, Nidoy has a whole compendium of downloadable page-long pieces about key aspects of Catholicism. The articles have gone viral and are used by preachers, parishes, schools, and other religious entities engaged in spreading the faith.
Among the 10 reasons cited by Nidoy:
At mass, we “take part in Jesus’s world-changing sacrifice at Calvary.” We also “receive the most expensive gift”—God Himself in His Body and Blood. The mass brings us to “our greatest destiny: to be able to dialogue with the Supreme Being as His intimate friend.” Thus, we can “tap into omnipotent help.” And massgoers “build and expand the greatest project”: Christ’s work of redemption.
Well and good, especially for believers strongly grounded in the paramount tenets of Christianity: that there is a Supreme Being Who created the universe, sent His Son to redeem humanity, and gives immense graces lifting us to perfection and joy in Him through the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
But what about many Catholics, young and old, who don’t feel the presence of God in their lives, and even doubt His existence and His concern and intervention for the world and for ordinary people like them? Will they care to join a rite of worship and redemption if they don’t really sense that God is there, in the first place?
So along with the great truths about the Holy Mass and its infinite treasures, maybe some of our wavering brethren in the faith need to hear and grasp even more basic truths. Like, Is God really there? And if He is, does He really listen or care?
In answering these questions, it may be good to take a break from Scripture and other traditional pillars of our faith. Rather, let’s just seek answers in our everyday life with the light of one’s common sense and true feelings.
Let’s look for God and know Him with our own eyes, mind and heart.
Do you need God?
For starters, let’s assume all is chance, and no all-knowing, all-powerful being rules all and sundry, and takes an interest in you and me and the rest of humanity.
Many people actually think and live like there’s no one up there. Not Manny Pacquiao, though, judging from his habit of crossing himself and kneeling before every fight. Or Steph Curry and other basketball stars, who also cross themselves and point up after making three-point shots. Or tycoons who contribute to religious causes in gratitude.
Not the majority of humanity who believe God, guardian angels or some other supernatural beings saved or otherwise helped them. And not even those who hate God for tragedies and evils in their lives or our world. One has to believe He’s around and in ultimate charge before one can blame and curse Him for whatever bad happens, right?
But for some of you reading this, or some people we know, He’s not and never was here. Agnostics and atheists like you or them look at life and everything before them in time and space, and divine no godly rhyme or reason orchestrating all to some end.
If you happen to be one of such non-believers, stop reading and forget the mass. You’ve got life and the world all figured out, relying solely on your wits and luck to do what you believe is best for whatever you care about.
But if you see a higher power, a creative intelligence, or a loving Father holding all in His eternal hands, then think about attending the supreme act by which earthly souls can join with heavenly spirits in adoring, thanking, and seeking grace and mercy from the Almighty.
To believe or not to believe, that is the question that underlies this article’s headline. Your yes or no answers both queries. And in answering the question, make sure it’s your own reply, even as you listen to other voices on all sides.
Do you need to be saved?
Next question, especially for those who do believe in the Creator: Do I need God to save me?
Sure, He’s up there, but maybe one doesn’t need to bother God with our problems. After all, tens of millions of people enjoy affluence, learning, health, modern technology, and other bounties of the 21st century.
Well, in fact, many a successful, comfortable soul fear things could go south just like that. Accident, cancer, family tragedy, financial ruin, calamity, or some other misfortune can befall anyone. So even the hale and happy go to church for divine protection.
And even the most gilded, trouble-free life will succumb to age and illness. So we pray that the end isn’t too painful, and what comes next is heavenly, not hellish.
In sum, things can go wrong, especially when all seems fine.
Yes, there are many who have mobilized resources and systems to make and keep life divine. But in the end, we are all human. We all need to be saved. And the mass is precisely God’s way of constantly repeating His supreme act of saving humankind.
The last question is an extension of the second: Can you save others?
We all have people we care for, and we wish that they, too, keep safe and find joy in life. And it would be truly heavenly to be together in the next life with the people we care about, and others we encounter in our threescore and ten.
Can all that happen? Or will all just end when hearts stop beating: the joy, the love, the memories, everything.
Maybe not for those who believe and pray at mass: May the Body and Blood of Christ bring us to everlasting life. Amen.