Faith & Family
(Photo by Debra Greenblat/Catholic San Francisco)
The holy sacrifice of the Mass is at the center of our belief and practice in the Catholic Church. St. Mary’s Cathedral is the mother church of our archdiocese.
Why go to mass: Five reasons
November 15th, 2016
By Jared Zimmerer
As a husband, a father of five, a fitness advocate, an avid reader, and a man who is continually searching for mental, physical, and spiritual growth, the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass has become an indispensable charge of focused action toward my end goal of becoming a saint. We all have our own reasons as to why we persistently join in this heavenly celebration, however, as a man I want to offer my modest considerations as to what draws me back to the sanctuary day in and day out. As created, loved beings we are given the opportunity to feast on the body and blood of God himself and these five reasons to go to Mass are in direct relationship with that connection to the divine.
“The Lord gives strength to his people.” - Psalm 29:11
In the many walks of life there are few characteristics as desirable as that of strength. It seems that every day we come across a new challenge or a difficulty which requires the plateau-busting push to meet new heights of strength, holiness and power. Whether this is a practice in mental fortitude, physical tenacity or spiritual mettle, becoming a stronger individual is what life, and our creator, desires for us to nurture.
As a weightlifter I understand that what I put into my body will propagate the output my body is willing to give. If I eat cheeseburgers and milkshakes every day it would be nonsensical for me to expect my muscles to push beyond their normal limits.
So, as a person who aspires to become strong in every area of my life, attending Mass is of utmost importance. When receiving the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, our metaphysical muscles are enhanced which increases the power of our soul, building within us a divine intensity which spills over to strengthen our evangelization efforts, our intellectual proficiencies and sets the stage for a physical body willing to sacrifice, spilling into a more effective fitness regime.
External strength is only good insofar as the internal strength can carry it, and when we are graced enough to attend the holy sacrifice of the Mass our internal strength is given the boost it needs.
“Haughtiness brings humiliation, but the humble of spirit acquire honor.” - Proverbs 29:23
When going to Mass there are several incidences which shower the attendee with honor and grace. It is an honor to hear the word of God proclaimed before believers. It is an honor to hear the sacred words spoken which change normal bread and wine into the food even angels are jealous of. It is an honor to sit next to another believer in the presence of God and his priests. And most importantly, it is an honor to take part in the celebration of the sacrifice of Christ and partake of his body and blood.
So often we become haughty and arrogant in our thinking and feel that we are blessing everyone around us with our presence. We forget about the fact that the real honor bestowed comes when a believer truly lets go and allows God to shower him with virtue.
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” - Joshua 24:15
I am very proud of my Catholic heritage, and when I go to Mass, I am reminded of all those who came before me. Those blessed saints who spilt their blood so that the future generations could attend Mass without persecution. They suffered and many died so that I might continue the traditions and beliefs of this breathtaking faith. The blood, sweat and tears of 2,000 years reside within every single Catholic, and our heavenly intercessors the saints are cheering us on to continue the work for which they gave their lives. Out of loyalty to us, Christ overcame sin and death. For the sake of loyalty to Christ I give my life over to him.
“The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
I am a shameless fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. Tracing back to the beginnings of my serious contemplation of the faith, Tolkien’s work opened my mind not only to the beauty of the written word but the overwhelming splendor of the fantastic. Wonder is the first step in effective philosophy and through the incredible beauty of the Catholic faith we get to experience, in the here and now, that which inspired Tolkien, which is the experience of transcendence through a human nature redeemed by Christ’s divine nature. When going to Mass, it is easy to get lost in the faces of others and fail to recall that a channel is opening between the heavens and the earth. We are surrounded by angels and saints each time the Blessed Sacrament is held up by the priest. I am surrounded by a meeting of heaven and earth, where God takes on our flesh and beckons us to embark on an unexpected adventure.
“The world offers you comfort, you were not made for comfort, but for greatness.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
We Catholics are made for mission. Whatever that mission might be, it is direly important in the eyes of God and his church. What we must remember is that the holy Mass is the event and place where we are given a reason for our hope and the gumption to die for it. Nowhere else in this world can we be guaranteed life-giving victory and spotless purity of the cause we fight for. The Mass begins the mission Christ gave to his church to prepare the followers to be participants in his own divine nature, and in becoming ever more like Christ we labor not just to change the world, but to bring it to share in the gift of Christ’s divine life.
Reprinted by permission of author Jared Zimmerer and Word on Fire. Zimmerer is the founder of Strength for the Kingdom, a ministry promoting men’s growth in virtue, knowledge of the Catholic faith, and the understanding of authentic masculinity through physical endeavors. www.jaredzimmerer.com
From November 17, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.