Do we have to go to Church EVERY SUNDAY?
Why? Why isn’t once a year good enough? Especially when it’s so boring, and such a waste of time? Why EVERY WEEK?
The truth is, what we should be asking is, why do we ONLY HAVE TO GO ONCE A WEEK, when we consider what’s at stake here.
I visited a grade 9 class recently, asking them how they ranked their priorities – they gave high points to things like friends, family, sports, clothes, music, hair, shoes, and so on, pretty much in that order. High priority was also given to video games, shoes, cell phones, jobs, hair, Friday nights, etc. Then I asked them, in their lives, where God fits in. Didn’t score very high, as I’m sure you can imagine.
Then I asked the obvious question, whether they thought God SHOULD score higher – everyone pretty much agreed that God should. Why? Because God is our creator. Because God is the creator of the entire universe. Because Jesus gave his life for us. Because God, the most powerful, most IMPORTANT being that ever existed, wants to know us and have a relationship with us. Even if we aren’t sure if there IS a God, we can pretty much agree that pursuit of the QUESTION of God is worth as much time, energy, resources, etc., that we can give it.
So why DON’T we spend more time and energy in that pursuit, or in relationship with the Almighty? Because church is boring, because it seems irrelevant, because we don’t like all the rules, because its an unfriendly place, and so on. All of these are true, in many cases, but considering what’s at stake, it still doesn’t justify how little time we spend on God.
One hour a week in church, that’s 0.6 % of our week. 0.6% of our time – for the creator of the Universe.
Why Sunday? Because Sunday is the Lord’s Day. In fact, in some languages, the word for Sunday is a DIRECT translation of “Lord’s Day.” It’s the day Jesus rose from the dead, signifying the new creation. Its kind of a little mini-Easter.
But what if Sunday is my only day off? Well, the only reason Sunday IS a day off, for most people, is that it’s the Lord’s Day – it used to be a law that everything was closed on Sunday, even the mall – but there was too much money to be made, and here we are.
What if YOU work on Sunday – a little known fact is that, in Canadian Law, you can provide a letter to your employer from your priest saying that you can’t work on Sunday for religious reasons, and they HAVE to give you that day off. Few take advantage of this, but its true. Some people need the money, mind you – not need the money for clothes at Dolce Gabbana; need the money for groceries – in this case, this is the societal injustice of poverty, and another way it takes a toll on us.
So what if we don’t have time? Well, we need to make time. If we don’t have time, then there’s something inherently wrong with the way we run our lives. And the need to have one day to sleep in is no excuse, because most churches have Saturday evening masses, and some have Sunday evening masses too.
The church I’m currently working at has a Sunday mass, with plenty of people who work on Sundays during the day – they have to, because they’re immigrants who are struggling to get by – but they still take the time to be in church every Sunday, even if its boring, even if they’re tired, even if they have no other free time.
Why is it so important to them? Well, I think of it like this.
Trying to go through life without church is like driving a car without gas, trying to live without food. It’s like being married to someone who never says I love you, ever.
We NEED God’s love, we NEED to put ourselves in the position to RECEIVE God’s love, on a regular basis, AT LEAST once a week. Can we get it privately, praying on our own? We can a little bit, but we need to remember where God has chosen to be with us – he’s PHYSICALLY present in the Sacraments and in the Word, in the Priest, and in the People of God. Those Sacraments are God’s embrace, his HUG, his “I love you,” so we aren’t just BELIEVING that God loves us, we actually feel God doing it.
Sure they aren’t PERFECT. They fall short. I certainly fall short. The community will certainly fall short quite often too, unfortunately. Us Catholics need to work on this in particular. But we’re gonna get more of God’s presence than we will sitting on the couch watching TV.
So, the church tells us to go to celebrate the Eucharist AT LEAST once a week, on the Lord’s Day.