Easter Sunday may be over but the Easter season has only just begun! Maintaining a weekly Mass attendance is probably more important than ever
Still, the temptation to make excuses will be strong. What if you live in a country that’s not predominantly Catholic? What if family circumstances get in the way? What if your job is compromised?
Well, one thing’s for sure. You can’t expect your faith to grow without a challenge. Since the early days of the Church, tackling adversity has always been a part of being a Catholic.
Fortunately, finding ways to always get to Sunday Mass on time is a lot easier than hiding from Roman soldiers.
#1. Generally, avoid jobs that require work on Sundays.
In our turbulent, fast-paced world, there is a sad trend among young adults who are too willing to work for a bigger buck less they ‘fall behind’ in terms of income. Yet as stated in Scripture, you cannot “serve two masters.” You cannot serve God and Mammon. If you must choose between going to Mass on Sunday and going to work for a bonus, choose the Mass.
The good news is that many businesses around the world still stick to the rule-of-law of having a designated working week while giving weekends off (this includes even workaholic-prone countries like Japan). For others, it is just simply another iteration of giving at least one day off each week. Make that day Sunday for you.
The same applies even if you are running a small business. If a large restaurant chain like Chick-fil-A can be closed on Sundays and still be successful, then the same can easily apply to you. Again, don’t be too quick to sacrifice your Sunday for the sake of a bigger paycheck. What’s the point in storing riches on Earth if you have none in heaven?
#2. Live close to your local parish church (and its community).
Naturally, the less time you spend heading to Mass, the more time you will have for it. At first glance, this might seem easier for those in Catholic countries. But, it can be less of a struggle if you simply know where to find the closest parish church is.
A good way to start is knowing what archdiocese has jurisdiction in your area, followed by a diocese. (In the U.S. alone, a large archdiocese covers several states!) After you find it, start narrowing it down to the one closest to your neighborhood.
One way is to simply search the archdiocese online. After all, there are no shortage of Catholic resources on the internet. It is very likely that the parish church itself already has website so don’t hesitate to look them up!
And once you do, don’t just treat it like a place to drop by and then leave. Familiarize yourself with the community. Because more likely than not, you will be a familiar face to them during regular mass attendance.
#3. Stay up-to-date on your parish church schedule.
If you already know where your parish church is, then you should also know what schedule they keep. They will most likely post this on the bulletin or any place where attendees can easily see.
Depending on the rites, the church will hold a mass once every hour with half-hour breaks in between. The schedule might also change if it’s for an occasion (such as Pentecost Sunday, Christmas Eve or Ash Wednesday).
By knowing the schedule of your parish church, you can be more flexible. Going to Sunday Mass doesn’t mean you have to be so rigid that you can only attend in the morning, afternoon or evening. Sunday is a day of rest after all. While it’s never good to put off Mass on Sunday, it is just as bad to intentionally make a schedule that is difficult to keep. (There are other ways to do penance. Your Sunday schedule doesn’t have to be one!)
#4 Make Sunday Mass a good part of your day off.
Following-up on #3, it is also good to treat Sunday mass as something to look forward to on your Sunday off from work. Attitude is certainly a solid step towards building good habits and attending Sunday Mass is no exception.
One method you can try is to integrate the community life of your parish in your Sunday activities. Maybe they host a Bible study session over there or an adoration chapel you can spend time in. Alternatively, you can use the mass as a spiritual activity to start bonding time with your family.
It is good to view Sunday as not only a day of rest for God but as a day of rest between you and Him. Sunday Mass should be more than just a chore or a routine you do. It should be treated as something to look forward to as you strengthen your relationship with God.
#5. If all else fails, attend an anticipated or vigil mass.
This is a last resort for a very good reason. The anticipated mass (or vigil masses) are reserved for those who cannot attend Mass for reasons genuinely outside their control.
They may be new converts trying to adjust their work life to new life in the Church. They could also be from very poor families whose only means of livelihood involve work on Sundays. To treat is as a ‘mass of convenience,’ would be contrary to the spirit that sought to institute these masses in the first place.
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong if the above conditions apply to you. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we should always give special care to those who need it most. The mass is a beautiful celebration and you should always attend it as best as you can.
All in all, the methods here can be quite practical and certainly do away with the idea that attending Sunday Mass is a rigid, routine affair. Then again, seeing Mass for its truly glory and solemnity is probably the best way to always be there on time!
What’s your advice to other Catholics for making Sunday Mass a habit worth keeping?