Why do we go to church?
I go to church every Sunday to attend mass not only because it is my obligation as a Christian but also because of a psychological reason: If I miss a Sunday mass, I feel that some parts of myself are missing. I feel I’m not a whole as a person.
If an untoward incident happens to me in the preceding days, I blame it on my failure to attend mass the Sunday before. I also worry much about how my days would turn out.
I surmise that this is an indication of how deep or shallow is my faith in God.
Sometimes, though, we go to church just for the sake of attending church service. It is as if we are just going through the motion.
In his recent homily, Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle expressed his concern about this lackadaisical attitude of Catholics towards the mass.
Specifically, he is concerned if the faithful who are frequently attending Eucharistic celebrations really understand the meaning of the Holy Mass.
“When many people go to masses too frequently, one may ask: Do they still understand the meaning of the Holy Mass? Or has it just been part of customs or as cultural, social elements?” he said in his Homily at the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi last Sunday (June 3).
The head of the Archdiocese of Manila noted that Filipino Catholics go to masses as often as they can.
“During birthdays, we go to masses. Weddings, we go to masses. Funerals, we go to masses. Forty days, we go to masses. Board exams, we go to masses, along with the pencils. Having a new shoe, we use it going to masses. It is like every part of our lives, there must be a mass,” Tagle said.
He noted that there is nothing wrong with the faithful frequently going to Eucharistic Celebrations but stressed that what is important is that their faith is deepened every time they go to Church.
“I am not saying we should stop it. What I am saying is, we should deepen our understanding and application in life,” Tagle said.
This message of the cardinal is indeed enlightening. Regularly or frequently attending mass should make us better Christians. Attending mass is an exercise in futility if we do not try to take to heart the words of God. As Christians, we are called upon to apply God’s words to our lives.
If the words of God enter in our left ear and exit in our right ear, we may just as well not attend mass. The flip side is that if we take the words of God as our guiding principle in discerning our words and actions, we would be indeed better Christians. And our faith in God would be strengthened.
Why is it important for us to deepen our faith?
Our strong faith is our effective weapon in dealing with life’s adversities. Our faith in the goodness of the Lord makes us worry less about our problems. We are confident that God will not abandon us.
There are times, though, that our faith is put to the test by God. If our faith is shallow, we would even question why God allowed bad things to happen to us. We would say, “I have always been a good Christian, why had this bad luck befallen me?”
Of course, the saints like San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila have passed the faith test with flying colors. They preferred death rather than renounce their faith in God.
Author Elbert Hubbard has this to say about adversities: “God will not look you over for medals, degrees or diplomas but for scars.”