Hello there Rosary lovers! Catholics go to Mass either every Saturday night, or on Sundays. Many also go during the week, since many Masses take place during the week. But why do Catholics go to Mass?

1. Out of obedience

The first reason Catholics go to Mass is extremely basic: because we HAVE to.

There is very little wiggle room here. Unless we have a very good reason for not attending Sunday (or Saturday night) Mass, we are COMMANDED to go to Mass.

A Catholic priest lifting up the Chalice during Mass

The Catholic Church issues this command to all Catholics, and one cannot be a practicing or good Catholic if one doesn’t obey this. In fact, to intentionally disobey this command of the Church (‘I can’t be bothered to go to Mass today’) causes a Catholic to fall out of the state of grace.

This means that a Catholic who intentionally refuses to attend Mass on Sundays (or Saturday night) entirely forfeits their relationship with God, and could go to hell as a result. We call this being in a state of mortal sin. This is a condition of the soul that is so desperate that it means we have killed the life of God in our souls.

Certain things cause us to enter a state of mortal sin, and perhaps none is more serious than intentionally refusing to attend the Divine Worship of Almighty God at Mass.

‘O, but isn’t that harsh? To maybe end up in hell just because you didn’t want to go to Mass?’

Not at all. Hell is, in essence, the absence of the loving and merciful presence of God. Someone who refuses to go to Mass is putting themselves already into a kind of hell, by choosing to live without God. That’s what hell is: choosing to live without God for all eternity. We simply get what we want.

The trouble is that being without God is the most serious condition imaginable, because God is life, love and light and healing. If we are without God, we forfeit all of these other things: love, life, goodness, happiness, healing, help, etc.

So the first priority of every Catholic ought to be to never intentionally miss Mass, unless they have good reason, such as sickness or having to take care of dependents, etc.

There ARE definitely legitimate reasons to miss Mass, and these do not result in any sin at all. This is perhaps most of all a matter of the heart. If a Catholic wants to go to Mass, but can’t, this is very, very different to a Catholic who can go to Mass, doesn’t want to, and therefore doesn’t go.

However, a Catholic who can go to Mass, but doesn’t want to, should go anyway, because it will not only avoid them entering a state of mortal sin, but it will actually bring with it extra blessings compared to all those who want to be there.

It is more pleasing to God when a Catholic doesn’t really want to do something – such as go to Mass – and yet does it anyway by sacrificing their own desires. This shows self-control and mastery, and gains extra merits. It is always easy to do things we want to do. It isn’t easy to do things we don’t want to do.

2. To Worship God

The Catholic Church teaches that the supreme act of worship is the offering of the body and blood of Christ to God the Father. This Jesus did 2000 years ago when he offered his spotless Self to God on the cross.

Jesus the High Priest of the New Covenant

A Statue of Jesus, with his arms spread outHowever, Jesus is an everlasting High Priest and is forever the High Priest of the New Covenant. As a Priest, Jesus daily offers himself to God – not that he is crucified all over again, but in the Mass.

We see this by the fact that Christ’s Priesthood is explicitly said in the Bible to be ‘according to the order of Melchizedek.’ Melchizedek did one thing only in the Scriptures, and that is: he offered bread and wine to God.

There’s a clue as to what Jesus’ New Covenant ministry is all about! He too offers bread and wine to God constantly.

Jesus ONCE offered himself in a bloody manner to God. But now, everyday in the New Covenant era, Jesus offers himself to God in an unbloody manner, by the offering of his body and blood in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is an unbloody Sacrifice of the New Covenant era. It is unbloody because to the senses, it appears that all we are eating is simply bread, and what we are drinking seems to be simply wine.

However, during Mass, by the power of God and the words of Christ spoken aloud by the priest at the altar, Jesus transforms the bread and wine into his own body and blood, soul and divinity.

We recall that Jesus gives a sort of ‘prophecy’ of this in John 2, when he changes water into wine at the Wedding in Cana. Jesus can do that, it’s easy for him. It’s easy for the Creator of all things, simply by a word, to transform ordinary bread and wine into his most holy Body and Blood for our salvation.

Jesus Christ presents himself on the Altar of a Catholic Church when this happens, and offers himself again to God.

We read about this in Hebrews chapter 5, where we read that the priests of old daily offered sacrifices for sins. There was also the burnt offering, that burned constantly morning and evening on the altar before God.

This is what God always required, and the New Covenant is no different. God daily requires holy sacrifice for sins.

We read even in the book of Revelation that Jesus still bears the wounds of love, for John saw a Lamb that has been slaughtered (Revelation 5:6). This is the way Jesus still looks in heaven, as a Lamb that has been slaughtered. This is why pictures of Jesus often depict him still with his wounds. And we know that when he was risen and appeared to his disciples, he told them they could touch his wounds.

Since the priests of old daily offered sacrifices for sins, Jesus also, as the New Priest of the New Covenant, daily offers a sacrifice for sins. And this Sacrifice is the Holy Sacrifice of his Body and Blood to God the Father for us all.

What other Sacrifice could he possibly have to offer? He cannot offer his death on the cross again because it has happened and is over. He is no longer dead. ‘He is not here, he is risen.’

As John writes: ‘For he IS a Propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for those of the whole world.’ (1 John 2:2). Notice the present tense used by John there. This is to say not only was Jesus a Propitiation (a Sacrifice of Atonement) for our sins in the past, but he is STILL our means of Atonement, because he is daily a Propitiation for our sins in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

John speaks of this also in 1 John 1:7: ‘If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with each other and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.’ The Blood of the Eucharist, John means, because this is the only means of cleansing and of fellowship simultaneously.

The Chalice, the Covenant, and Christ’s Blood

We must, of course, always remember Christ’s own words on the night he suffered for us: ‘This Chalice IS the New Covenant in my blood, which shall be poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.’

A golden Chalice used at MassThese astonishing words teach us that the Chalice itself, and the sacred Wine it contains, is the New Covenant, a New Covenant in Christ’s own holy and divine blood. That blood was to be poured out for us, but notice the metaphor of pouring out. You see, we pour out wine, and Jesus was to pour out his own blood for us.

What does Jesus mean? He means that as his own blood will be poured out on the cross, so the wine which is poured out IS his own blood also, and is the New Covenant for our forgiveness.

In other words, Christ’s sacrificial Death for us on the Cross CAN ONLY be experienced by us and can only benefit us IN THE HERE AND NOW when we receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Holy Eucharist. This is the New Covenant way.

If Jesus was speaking symbolically about all of this, then:

  1. Why does he say the New Covenant is ‘this Chalice’? The Chalice wasn’t symbolic.
  2. Why does he say that his blood ‘will be’ poured out on the cross? He meant this literally, but he meant it in the future.
  3. And yet, he still says that the Chalice contains his blood: ‘This Chalice is the New Covenant IN MY BLOOD.’

The only way to interpret these words is that the Cross and the Eucharist absolutely belong together, and that Jesus’ real blood is present in the Eucharist every bit as much as it was poured out on the cross.

What is true Worship?

It would be incorrect to think that God can best be worshipped simply by saying a few prayers to him, no matter how heartfelt. This is what Muslims believe, and it is also what Protestant Christianity believes.

In other words, there is no higher means to worship God other than to approach him in prayer and to tell him that you love him. Or to preach about God, or to read his words, whether in the Bible or the Quran.

Indeed, Protestantism has very striking similiarites with Islam. The main basis of both of these religions is that Truth is found supremely in a Book.

But this is not the Catholic way. Catholics do not believe that Christianity is primarily a religion of a book, even of the Bible. No matter how important and vital the Bible is – and it IS vital, and it IS the divine word of God – the Catholic Church rejects the notion that Christian Truth is found supremely in a Book.

Rather, the Catholic belief is that Christianity is found supremely in the Risen Christ, who is the Truth, and the Life, the Eternal Life of God, the Word of Life and the Word who has become flesh for us from the holy Virgin.

This faith is a living and dynamic faith, an organic faith, a Faith that is attached supremely to a living person, the Word incarnate. Not to a book, even a holy Book.

And this Word, Jesus, daily offers us his flesh and blood that we may grow in him and partake of his Wisdom and become more and more like him.

How could he offer himself to us in a more intimate way? How could he have done more for us than this? To give us his own divine life into our bodies and souls by this means is the greatest gift God has ever given the human race.

The Bible is never and can never be an end in and of itself. At its best, the Bible is a pathway to Jesus, in whom are found all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. The Bible is always supposed to take us beyond itself to the Christ it seeks to depict.

And so, the holy Catholic faith believes and proclaims that God is supremely worshipped not by prayer, but by the Sacrificial Prayer of Jesus Christ in his Offering of his Body to God on the Cross. And this Prayer, this Offering, and this Christ re-presents himself before the world everytime Mass is celebrated.

Jesus offers his own Body and Blood to God at every Mass, and invites us all to join him in this Supreme Worship of God the Father. This is the Heavenly and Eternal Feast! We primarily join him in this by feasting on his holy flesh and blood when we eat the Bread of the Eucharist, but simply to show up for Mass is enough.

This is ultimately why the Catholic Church obligates Catholics to attend Mass weekly. The Church even encourages us to attend Mass during the week if we can. Some Catholics even attend Mass everyday.

There is no better way by which to worship God, because Mass IS the Supreme heavenly worship of God on earth. Because of this, there is no better way to become all that we were meant to be in Christ.

In a word: Mass is the preeminent meaning and purpose of human existence.

6 Replies to “Why Do Catholics Go to Mass?”

  1. I stumbled upon this interesting post about Catholicism and the reason why Catholics go to Mass. 
    First of all, let me ask a question. Why do you think Catholics go to Mass? Is it just a tradition or is there a deeper meaning behind it?

    For me, Mass is more than just a religious gathering. It’s a way to connect with God and the community. The Mass is a celebration of the Eucharist, the reenactment of the Last Supper, where we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. It’s a reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us and an opportunity to reflect on his teachings.

    Going to Mass is also a way to practice our faith and live out our Catholic beliefs. It helps us to focus on our spiritual well-being and strengthen our relationship with God. The Mass is a time for us to pray, sing hymns, and hear the Word of God. It’s a way to show our gratitude for the blessings in our lives and to seek guidance in difficult times.

    In my opinion, Mass is also a way for Catholics to connect with each other and build a sense of community. It’s a time for us to come together, support each other, and pray for one another. Whether we are young or old, rich or poor, we are all equal in the eyes of God and Mass is a way to celebrate that unity.

    Overall, I think the reason why Catholics go to Mass is a combination of tradition, faith, and community. It’s a time to connect with God, reflect on our beliefs, and be a part of something larger than ourselves. Whether you are Catholic or not, I think it’s important to find a way to connect with the divine and find meaning in life.

    What do you think about the Catholic tradition of going to Mass? Do you have any similar experiences or beliefs? Let’s start a discussion!

    1. Great stuff. I love how you mention community a lot. This sense of community and family was a huge part of why I converted to the Catholic Church. I desperately wanted to be part of you all. So glad I am.

  2. Interesting about attending mass, and I always wondered why some of my friends never miss mass at all even when they are sick. When the COVID pandemic started, did Catholics attend mass through video streaming? After reading your information here, I think am going to follow my friends up with their invite to attend the mass tomorrow and to experience first hand of the Catholic religion. Please keep sharing insights. 

    1. Yes the obligation to attend Mass is a big reason many Catholics will always attend Mass, even when they could easily be somewhere else. If we are sick, I don’t believe the Church teaches that we have to go.

      Great question about the pandemic. When COVID occurred, the Churches shut, and so the Pope recommended that we say a few extra prayers, like the Rosary, or perhaps watch Mass on live stream. 

      But there was no obligation to watch Mass during the pandemic. The Church is clear that watching Mass on video stream is NOT a fulfilment of the obligation to attend Mass. The only way we can fulfil the obligation to attend Mass is by going, unless we have good reason for not going (sickness, care of someone who urgently needs our help, etc.)

      During the pandemic, for the first time in hundreds of years, the Churches shut even on Sundays and so the Catholic Church simply removed the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass for about 2 years. It’s only recently been re-instated.

  3. There’s definitely a huge benefit to going to any mass gathering at church, it helps us remember what Jesus has done for us, and it allows us to stay anchored to Him.  Sometimes, the hardest thing is getting up and going to church on Sunday when you just want to stay in bed.  But there is a blessing in going, you ultimately make the choice, “God, I am choosing you today.” and putting forth the action.

    One thing I’ve noticed in my own time is that church is only part of the equation to discipleship.  True growth comes when you spend time with God, you read and study His word, and pray for others.  I’ve been on a solid routine of doing this every morning at 5:40, and it starts off every day with walking with Christ.

    1. Hey there! Haha, yes I hear you, it’s sometimes so tempting to stay in bed.

      It’s an act of faith to get up and go to Church even when we don’t want to. God blesses this intention and action.

      You are right I believe about Church being only part of becoming a saint/true disciple. A GREAT deal takes place in our own hearts and in the quiet with God alone, just God and me.

      Recently, I feel Jesus has been calling me to silence. I really don’t understand much about what this means or looks like for me. Apparently, the saints tell us that silence is the highest form of prayer, but I know so little about it.

      That’s absolutely awesome you are doing that daily really early in the morning. I remember doing similarly in my early 20s and it was the most immense blessing. I can’t do this anymore.

      God bless your journey!!

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