Attend Mass with a sense of purpose

The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.

Every Sunday it happens, week after week, year after year, even century after century. Catholics gather to celebrate Mass for many reasons.

God has given so much to us that we need to make time in our week to be in God’s presence. Jesus is our merciful redeemer and we long to be united to him in the Eucharist. And sometimes we come because it is a rule of the church.
However, have you ever taken time to think about how you come to Mass? This Sunday’s Gospel presents three interesting ways we could examine the attitude we bring to Sunday Mass.

Do you come as a treasure seeker? Do you surrender your mind and heart so that you may gain insight from listening to the Scriptures? Perhaps you come to Mass having read the Scriptures beforehand so that you can listen more intently to the homily as it breaks open for you a treasure hidden in those words of Scripture. Is your greatest purpose in attending Mass to receive the Eucharist? A hymn most of us have heard at Mass, written by Jesuit Fr. John Foley reminds us that in the Eucharist “We hold a treasure not made of gold.”

Do you find yourself coming to Mass with the spirit of an evangelist, waiting upon that word from God? You are hungry for the grace of the Eucharist. You rely on the power of prayer found in the community. This liturgy is the peak of your faith. However like the merchant in today’s Gospel, you do not keep that great pearl for yourself. It is your mission to take the grace and beauty of the liturgy out with you into the world. You are willing to share the story of the pearl of our Catholic faith to everyone you meet.

Maybe you come to Sunday Mass carrying a net. You are ready to take it all in. You look forward to visiting with other members of the community. You pay attention to the seasonal decorations that are in the church or notice flowers that have been placed before a statue. You sing every song. You listen intently to the Scriptures and every prayer. You are honored to be part of the body of Christ as you heartfully share the sign of peace. You joyfully move forward with your brothers and sisters to receive the Eucharist. After Mass you linger, perhaps in prayer or in visiting, because you do not want to miss any part of your parish celebration.

While it is good for us to come to the liturgy with a sense of purpose, we also know that some Sunday’s it takes everything in us simply to go to Mass. But we go and know that the best we will be able to do is sit quietly and ask God to help us. And, in that, we can be reassured, for this Sunday’s first reading tells us, that at times simply being humble in God’s presence is enough.

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.