Church attendance by those who are capable seems to baffle me at times.
Of course we have our P. A. C. E. Catholics--Palms, Ashes, Christmas and Easter for those who may never have heard of this expression. They pace themselves out and fill the church on the respective liturgical days. We are glad that they are with us when they arrive for at least some occasions during the church year.
Then there are the Hatched, Matched and Dispatched Catholics. We will see them only for significant life events: at a baptism because of the birth of a child, at a wedding, or at a funeral.
Then we may see our occasional Catholics who try to attend once in a while “when it fits into their schedule and it is not overly inconvenient.”
There are the fear of hell Catholics whose primary reason for attending Mass is so that they will not be “struck down by God and wind up in hell someday.”
We can also find those who attend most of the time. Perhaps we call them practicing Catholics. And then we have the Die Hard Catholics who wouldn’t miss a Mass come hell or high water.
Even among those who attend pretty regularly or faithfully, we have some who may look bored to death, who may never sing or utter a response, who want to be “entertained” by a creative liturgy, good music or stimulating homilist and/or those who simply can’t wait to leave early.
The above categorizations seem to be appropriate for a retelling of the “Parable of the Sower” where the seed that is sown lands on different types of soil. (Mt. 13; Mk. 4; Lk 8)
Simply stated, attendance at Mass is an act of worship. We owe that to God each week. In turn, we are nourished by the Sacred Scriptures and by the Holy Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Himself. We should want to come each week because we love Jesus. We should come to give thanks. After all, He did die for us and asked us to remember Him by the Eucharist.
No matter where we may be in the above list, we continually need to purify our motives for coming to Mass and to do it weekly for the right reason. And while we are there we should remember that we are participants, not spectators.
Missing Mass is considered a sin of omission—failure to do something that we should be doing. While there are those who argue that we shouldn’t go if “we don’t feel like it,” I’m sure that Jesus didn’t feel like hanging on the cross for three hours for us. We owe it to Him to be there faithfully each week.
Fr. Ed Namiotka