Sunday, February 5, 2023

A Rule of Life: Daily Mass

I once wrote about the importance of prioritizing our priorities; of making the time and space for the different things that are important in our lives--even when those look different from the priorities and values of other people. In that post, I mentioned that my husband and I practically accomplish this through our Rule of Life (a basic framework for how we want to live). I thought it would be fun to write a small series of posts that dive into a few different elements of our Rule of Life. 

Today, I'd like to share one element of our family's Rule of Life: Daily Mass.

When discussing the first Christians, Acts of the Apostles mentions that: "They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers." (Acts 2:42) The liturgy was vastly important in the lives of the early Christians, and it continues to be of utmost importance today. 

Writing in the second century, Justin Martyr speaks of this Eucharistic liturgy, writing that: 

"For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." (Chapter 66, "Apology"

The Eucharist, the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, is a tremendous gift. And, as I've pondered before, “The Mass is the most important thing we do.” As a Church, we join together in the Eucharistic liturgy every single Sunday, the day of the Resurrection. This is so important that it is a precept of the Church!

For over a year now, I've been writing a series on the liturgy for (you can find the archived articles here). There is a lot we can discuss regarding the liturgy and the Eucharist. I'm continually discovering new ways in which I can actively participate in the Mass. I'm continually growing in my knowledge and appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist. 

The Mass is so important that we attend each Sunday. However, in many Roman Catholic parishes like our own, the Mass is celebrated almost every day. 

Long before my husband and I ever formally began dating, we attended daily Mass together at least once a week. Attending the liturgy together continued to be a cornerstone in our relationship, and daily Mass has become part of our family's Rule of Life. 

We currently only make it to a couple daily Masses each week, but our repeated act of prayer and offering at Mass--as a family--has been a gift. Not only are our bodies and souls nourished by the Eucharist, but we are much more in tune with the rhythms of the Church's year, since we make our way through the cycle of readings and prayerfully participate in the liturgy throughout the week, and not just on Sunday. It also is good for our children. Instead of only learning how to participate in Mass on Sunday, they have multiple opportunities each week to learn through experiencing it. 

Daily Mass is a gift, and it's almost always inconvenient. 

Even though I try to find Mass locations and times that work well for the kids, it's always a bit of a hassle to get everyone fed, dressed, out the door, and still make sure that sleep happens. We've gone to Mass in the evening, Mass around lunchtime, and Mass in the early morning. The only churches with daily Masses we can get to are about 25 minutes away (there's a church closer to us, but the morning daily Masses are school Masses, and I've learned that school Masses with my little ones are extra-hard, so we try to avoid those). If we want daily Mass to happen, it really has to be a priority, and we plan the day's activities around it. 

Yet, this has been a good thing (at least for me). It's reminded me that offering prayer and worship to God in the liturgy SHOULD BE the priority in our lives. All things considered, the sacrifices that we make are small compared to those that some people make, who travel long distances and endure many difficulties to attend Mass. And, I try to remember that the sacrifices we make to attend Mass are worth it. 

At this point in time, we attend daily Mass as a family on Saturdays, and then on an additional weekday while my husband is at work. Lately, my husband and I were talking about how important Mass is, and I was thinking that it would be good to add in another Mass each week with the kids. So, I think we will start that once Lent arrives :) 

With priest shortages and church closures being a reality for many dioceses across the U.S., not everyone has daily Mass available. However, for those of us who do have daily Mass available, could we make the sacrifice and get there? Even if we can only attend one daily Mass each week, that in itself is a beautiful offering that we can make with our families.

Even when it's really hard to guide my four young children through the Mass, it's always worth it-because the Mass is the most important thing we do! 

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