Apathy is one of the greatest hurdles in the average Catholic’s life today. Our society strives to be always looking, doing, and being ten thousand things at once. And of course, they have to be all the shiny, pretty, handsome and feel-goody things. We live by mantras such as “if it feels good, do it” and “if your heart isn’t in to it, then quit”. These mantras are stupid; they cause people to act foolishly. I will leave you to think of your own examples. Anyways, many cite the Mass being boring as their reason for parting with the Catholic Church. They lament about how their souls are not being fed good ole Bible teachings and how the music is so lame. They complain about the Priest daring to speak on topics such as Birth Control or gay marriage and gossip about how the girl two rows in front of them is dressed like a shameless hussy. So they leave and find that super duper awesome Bible-thumping church with super duper trendy music. After a few months, similar complaints arise so they switch churches again. And again.
While many people choose to continue this cycle for years, I chose to return to what I knew. There is certainly something reassuring in returning to what’s comfortable but what was more comforting was that I could always see God in the Mass, strictly because of the Eucharist. What was significantly less comforting was realizing that my apathy toward the Mass was based completely in my own selfish desires. I wasn’t leaving with happy go-lucky feelings. The priest wasn’t referencing the Bible enough for me. The music didn’t make me want to clap my hands and spin in circles. I wasn’t being entertained. I’m laughing while I type this because seriously, who was I to make such requests to God? To demand that He give me more than the copious amount of blessings he bestowed on me each and every day? He gave me free will—the power to choose my own happiness and moreso, choose joy in each and every circumstance. The problem was not with the Mass, it was with me.
The Sacrifice of the Mass is a small offering that we are obligated to make once a week and during Holy Days. That’s about 59 hours a year that our Lord requests of us. Lots of non-Catholics think this sense of obligation is outdated. What if we don’t “feel” like going? Of course we can always choose not to honor the Sabbath and minus extenuating circumstances, that places us outside the state of grace we are required to be in to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Don’t argue with me; just go to Confession. I can tell you from personal experience that the Devil is quick to put a sense of apathy into our paths. We missed Mass a couple weeks ago due to traveling and our prayer life and sense of holiness in our home suffered greatly. Not in an obvious way (which is how tricky Satan is!) but in a way that we didn’t really care to find time for prayer and literally dragged ourselves to Confession the following week. Did we feel like it? Nope. Not even a little. But Pentecost Sunday was my birthday and I knew I wanted to receive Jesus that day.
When we are in that state of grace to receive, our experience of Jesus in the Eucharist depends entirely on our attitudes during Mass. If we are too busy judging the family in front of us or planning our to-do list for the week, we are only hurting ourselves out of a spiritual communion with all of heaven. To better prepare myself to receive the Eucharist, I wear a chapel veil. I will expand on my “why” of veiling another time. Liam and I have read through parts of the Catechism that specifically reference the Eucharist (1324-1419). Another great resource is Vinny Flynn’s 7 Secrets of the Eucharist (he also wrote 7 Secrets of Confession which is equally amazing). It was a huge game changer for me in how I viewed and received Jesus in this sacrament. Please go read it! My family chooses to receive Communion on our tongues, while kneeling. This was a decision that came from lots of prayer, fellowship with friends and clergy and most of all, the extreme mindfulness of our own sinful nature and necessity of both penance and adoration during the Mass. Saints Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, and Pope John Paul II have a lot to say about receiving Communion as well if you care to do your own research. If I think about Communion too much, I actually cry over the greatness of such a gift that I truly cannot comprehend it. This being said, many wonderful and holy people receive the Eucharist while standing and in his or her hands and with the right attitude, Jesus will surely meet you right where it matters most, in your heart.
To stay wildly unpopular, I will conclude with an extremely short list of actions that would place you outside the state of grace with the Church. Please consider going to Confession if any of these apply to you, especially before attending Mass/ receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.
- Missing Sunday/ Holy Day Mass
- Taking birth control FOR ANY REASON (even if you are 12 years old and not sexually active)
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Divorce without an annulment/ Marriage outside the Catholic Church
Complete list here! http://www.saintaquinas.com/mortal_sin.html