This is a blog entry taken from my Myspace blog dated April 21, 2008.
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I would like to bring about to the forefront of our minds a thought that provoked me about a week ago and hasn't left my mind since. This may seem like a semantical discussion of sorts but I think it is worth talking about. The question is do we as the Church the people of God go to Holy Mass, or attend Holy Mass? I believe there is a difference and I hope to arouse our thoughts to probe deeper into own individual lives as Christians.
First, it must be said that the Holy Mass is the greatest act the Church does. Therefore, our attitude must reflect the solemnity of the occasion. As a cradle Catholic I grew up sometimes dreading Sunday mornings when my mother would call me into the kitchen for Sunday breakfast. I knew that once I finished breakfast I would be asked to put on my "Sunday best." Eventually I grew out of this stage that we all experience from time to time as children and I realized the importance of Holy Mass. It is the holiest thing I do as a Catholic.
Now most people will use the terminology, "I'm going to Mass." There is nothing wrong with this but this does raise the question in my heart: "Am I just going to Holy Mass, or am I attending Holy Mass?" The difference between going to and attending Holy Mass is HUGE.
If I were to just go to Holy Mass I'm probably missing out on the point. The point of Holy Mass is to give thanks to God for having sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins. We give thanks to God the Father for His infinite mercy in forgiving us of our sins and we offer our gifts upon the altar through the Priest. If I'm just going to Holy Mass I'm not letting God show me His love through the Holy Mass. The other problem this poses is that it provides a situation where I as a Christian may begin just "going through the motions" and not actively pursuing my faith.
On the contrary, if I am attending Holy Mass, then I am completely disposed to receiving grace upon grace poured out during Holy Mass. I am fully active in giving glory to God for His infinite mercy, love, and forgiveness. I am completely contrite and sorrowful for my sins and attentive to everything that is happening at Holy Mass. As I receive Holy Communion I am completely aware that I am truly receiving Jesus Christ in His Body and Blood, soul and divinity. When I consciously set my gift upon the altar through the Priest I am giving my cares, my anxieties, my intellect, and my whole being unreserved and unconditionally to Jesus who will return grace upon grace.
So let me come out of the clouds for a minute and speak on practical terms.
The difference between going to and attending Holy Mass is not a semantical diologue but rather an examination of our attitudes. We must be completely disposed to receiving Holy Communion by making proper examination of ourselves and preparing prayerfully to receive God - Jesus Christ made manifest before our very eyes at each and every Holy Mass. Every Sunday we ought to both go to and attend Holy Mass.
When we rise each and every Sunday morning our first thoughts should not be, "I have to go to Mass today," but rather, "I get to attend Mass today." Our whole day then should revolve around preparing for Holy Mass. It is one of the blessings of living in a nation that allows for religious freedom. We ought to eat it up. We get to attend Holy Mass. We get to approach the altar of God and receive the very Flesh and Blood of God and to adore Him. It is the holiest act we as Christians do. The very action of the Holy Mass confers upon us as laypersons the graces necessary to perform our daily tasks with love and devotion, whether it be as students, parents, teachers, or even scientists.
I ask you to consider within yourself whether or not you simply go to Holy Mass (which is awesome) or whether or not you attend Holy Mass (which is greater).