FaithWorks! - Lent 2015 - Week One
Fr Longenecker's Newsletter on the Practical Practice of the Catholic Faith
Welcome to the first FaithWorks! for Lent 2015.
The idea behind FaithWorks! is to provide practical ideas, resources and teaching to shift your Catholic faith out of neutral and into gear. Lent is the perfect time to re-assess and renew our commitment and FaithWorks! is a small tool to help that to happen.
Today's image is an ordinary picture of an ordinary Catholic parish on an ordinary Sunday. I've chosen this picture because the feature article this week is about our duty to attend Mass every Sunday.
This is the first article in a series during Lent on the seven precepts of the Church. The precepts, along with the ten commandments give us the practical actions we all need to do to put our faith into action.
As usual, along with the articles I've included a couple of resources that will help you build your faith and grow closer to Christ.
I hope you will continue to connect with my other writings through my blog Standing on My Head, and also visit my website to connect to my Twitter feed, listen to podcasts from my radio show and to be in touch by email. If you enjoy the newsletter please forward it to others on your email list. Go here to subscribe to this weekly newsletter.
Mass Action Required!
The Catholic Church teaches us that, as Catholics we have both privileges and responsibilities. The privileges and responsibilities go hand in hand. You can't have one without the other. The basic responsibilities of Catholics are laid down in the seven precepts of the Church. Do you know what they are? My letter in the parish bulletin over the next few weeks will remind you.
The first precept is to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and resting from servile works. Notice that the obligation is to attend Mass, not necessarily to receive Holy Communion. If a Catholic is in an irregular marriage, or is in a state of mortal sin or believes he might be, then he or she should not receive communion. However, he or she is still obliged to attend Mass.
You might ask why one should bother to attend Mass if you're not going to receive communion. Because the worship of God by attending Mass still draws you closer to God and keeps your life open to his grace. Of course it is best to go to confession and get right with God and receive communion, but if for some reason you can't, you still need to attend Mass anyway.
The obligation to attend Mass is a serious obligation. Remember the saying, "You can miss Mass, but you can't skip Mass." In other words, if there is a serious reason for not attending Mass--like looking after a sick relative or young child, then it is not a serious sin, but to skip Mass for any other reason is a serious sin because you are putting something else before God. If a parents do not take their children to Mass they compound their sin by causing scandal to the young and setting a bad example. Put simply, you are saying to your children, "Mass doesn't really matter. We can let it slide sometimes."
The second aspect of keeping the Lord's Day holy is to rest from servile work. This means you should not do hard labor or work on a Sunday. These days when so many businesses are open it is hard for some people to avoid work on Sundays. Try to keep the principle of the Sabbath and at least get some extra rest and relaxation and time with friends and family on Sundays. This makes the day special and reminds you of your top priorities.
When you put God first by making Mass attendance a priority, and making a special day for rest and recreation you immediately establish the right priorities in every aspect of your life. By putting God first everything else fall into line. Your attitude to yourself, your family, your relationships, your problems, your career, your money--everything else soon becomes ordered and your life begins to be fuller and more abundant as Christ promised.
The precepts of the Church are there for our benefit not to cause us problems. The precepts are the Catholic basics, and the Church reminds us to live in this way for our good, and finally for our eternal salvation.