June 10, 2015
By Father William Muench
Recently, I stumbled upon an old rerun of the TV show, “Everybody Loves Raymond.” This particular show touched on the question of attending Sunday Mass; I was a bit surprised and intrigued by the choice of subject. Raymond doesn’t go to Mass on Sunday. His wife and children do, his parents do, even his brother attends Mass – but not Raymond.
I suspect that several married couples had interesting conversations, if they happened to watch this particular show. The show does bring up, what I would consider, an important question. While I realize that the writers were also seeking laughs, it does bring up serious questions.
In this show, Raymond’s father tries to convince him to attend Mass. He tries to make Raymond feel guilty, but he really doesn’t convince him. Later in the show Raymond mentions this conversation with his wife, Debra, and asks her why she goes to Mass.
The writers did make her response calm and rather good, from my point of view. Debra tells Raymond that she goes in gratitude to God for her family. She also adds that she also turns to God to seek God’s help as she deals with her husband and children.
Raymond is touched and decides that he will go to Mass with them on Sunday.
If Raymond turned to ask you, just why you go to Mass, how would you answer?
Each Sunday, each time you decided to attend Mass, why are you there? How do you explain to others why, we, Catholics, attend Mass each week? What would you say to convince Raymond?
I suggest that the Church gives us good reasons right in the prayers we say at Mass. Let me mention one. At the Offertory the priest invites the people to pray after receiving the bread and wine and bringing them to the altar. He says this: “My friends, pray that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”
The people respond to this invitation and, in doing so, they remember why they are here at Mass. The liturgy tells us to pray this: “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Holy Church.”
Each time, we say this prayer, we announce the real purposes that we come to Mass.
At each Mass, priest and people unite with Our Lord and Savior to offer the sacrifice of the Blessed Eucharist, the gift of Jesus that we may remember and celebrate God’s great love for us. This Eucharist is our way of praising and glorifying our God “for our good and the good of his Holy Church.”
This transforms each one of us that we can take the Lord into our lives and into our world to make it a better place.
Let me also share another descriptive prayer: the Opening Prayer for the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.
This prayer also tells us why we attend Mass – “O God, who have called us to participate in this most sacred Supper, in which your Only Begotten Son, when about to hand himself over to death, entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity, the banquet of his love, grant that we may draw from so great a mystery, the fullness of charity and of life. Through our Lord, Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, our God, forever and ever. Amen.”