Is this list complete?

On the site of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minnesota, The Catholic Spirit, there is a list of reasons why we go to Mass.  It seems the Catholic Spirit have plucked this from Card. O’Malley of Boston.  Here it is.

9 Reasons Catholics Go to Mass

According to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley

Catholics come to Mass because we desire:

1. To respond to God’s love.
2. To encounter Christ in the most profound way possible.
3. To gather and pray with our parish family.
4. To strengthen our particular family.
5. To witness to our faith and provide a living legacy to our children and grandchildren.
6. To be transformed by Christ’s grace.
7. To participate in Jesus’ victory over death and the salvation of the world.
8. A foretaste of heaven.
9. To follow God’s loving guidance and to commit to deepening our relationship with

Any of these at the top of your personal list? If your reason isn’t listed above, what is it?

With due respect to His Eminence, I would add a couple more, either one of which could give you a nice round “10 Reasons”.

10. We are obliged to go on days of precept. (Sort of like #9)
11. Because we are all going to die and meet our Judge. (Sort of like #7)

Perhaps they are implicit/included in His Eminence’s list. However, I like points like this to be clear.

And I can hardly wait until someone says:

12. Because we have to restore the older form of Mass.

And I love that great quote from the martyrs of Abitina during the persecution by Diocletian:

13. Sine dominico non possumus.

And… of course…

14. Because it is God’s will.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmum says:

    I go to Mass to worship God in the Eucharist and take part in the Mystery of Calvary. Like Mother Teresa, I go to look at God and give Him time to look at me.

  2. Paulo says:

    Mass is a sacrifice we offer to God, so number 7 (” To participate in Jesus’ victory over death and the salvation of the world.”) resonates well with me. I am on vacation with my family in Brazil, so I have not yet heard the new translation! I am going to pose this question to Father Javier on the parish I am attending mass here; it might make into the parish bulletin.

  3. LouiseA says:

    10) To adore God.
    11) To offer a Reparation to God for our sins and the sins of the whole world.
    12) To thank God.
    13) To obtain grace.

  4. introibo says:

    Probably implied, but why so wishy-washy?….to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Blessed Lord in the Holy Eucharist..

  5. ipadre says:

    To personally stand at Calvary and witness the sacrifice of the Living God.

    To offer my life (prayers, works, joys and sufferings, my whole being) in union with the Lamb of God.

  6. pm125 says:

    It is a list of the modern perspective – detailing what “we” desire.
    All good results for obedience to the unspoken Third Commandment of God, His desire.
    We love God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank Him, praise Him, and try to keep His holy precepts, given for love of His people. Being at Mass is our way to Him and His way to us through His Priests. May He bless and keep them, help steady our love, and forgive us all our times of unholiness.

  7. Brooklyn says:

    The Mass is far more than just a “feel good” experience as the good Cardinal seems to imply. I go to Mass because it is the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is not only the salvation of the Church, but the salvation of the world. If we do not have Christ’s sacrifice, we do not have either physical or spiritual salvation. I believe that without the Sacrifice of Christ being constantly offered to our Heavenly Father, our sins would call down the destruction of God upon the entire earth.

    There is nothing more important in the entire universe than the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is the Sacrifice of Christ, and thus the Sacrifice of the Mass, that stands between mankind and total destruction.

    As we pray in the Consecration in the EF:

    We offer unto thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, and of thy mercy grant that in the sight of thy divine majesty it may ascend as a sweet-smelling savour for our salvation, and that of all the whole world.

  8. L. says:

    The initial, primary reason that cradle Catholics assist at Mass is: “Because their parents make them do so.”

  9. Blaise says:

    I think number 6 is the best equiavlent to Fr Z’s number 11 – we desire to be transformed by God’s grace because we need that to face judgment. It is also the (desired) effect of receiving Jesus’s body and blood so in a sense addresses introibo’s desire, although I think he was really asking that the list be a bit more explicit.
    It is a good list couched in terms of a response to the luke warm or incomprehending who say “why go to mass”? In that sense Number 1 encompasses all the others – authentically to respond to God’s love includes those that follow and also most of the other suggestions (all good) that have been added.

  10. And don’t forget number 15) Because missing Mass without approriate reason or unforseen curcumstances preventing one from going, places the person in a state of mortal sin.

  11. Gregg the Obscure says:

    a. Nothing of this world approaches the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself which takes place in each Mass.
    b. The grace of the Sacraments prevents me from doing even more harm to others through sin than I already do.
    c. What shall I render to the Lord, for all the things He hath rendered unto me?

  12. Joe in Canada says:

    implicit, especially in Father’s #14, but: to worship God as He has commanded us to do. We were created to be in a proper relationship with Him: this is called “the Mass”.

  13. KAS says:

    I’m not very impressed with their list.

    I go because I want to receive Jesus and this holds true even if I was unable to go to confession and so am having to make a spiritual communion until I do. I’m still there because of Jesus.

    I go because God wills that we observe the sabbath with attendance at Mass and to miss without good reason is a sin.

    I go because this discipline seems to set the tone for my entire week.

  14. That quote from the martyrs of Abitina is one of my absolute favorites. For years, I had it taped to my refridgerator.

  15. guatadopt says:

    The Eucharist…as if we need any other reason! I don’t think I’d add “because it is a precept”. We shouldn’t do things simply because there is a rule or law thats says so. Wouldn’t that be Judiasing (as St Paul taught)?

  16. Bettnet says:

    Actually, Cardinal O’Malley does include “Sine dominico non possumus” in his pastoral letter as well several of the other reasons listed here that weren’t in the Catholic Spirit’s list. It’s just that he didn’t include them in his number list of reasons. After all, you could write thousands of words on why one should go to Mass, but this already long pastoral letter was aimed at an audience of people who’ve stopped going (or there friends and relatives who to ask them to come back) so perhaps it was most prudent and pastoral to keep the numbered list short and straightforward.

    The pastoral letter, for those who haven’t seen it yet, is available online.

  17. teomatteo says:

    Because God tells us to. (like number 14).

  18. avecrux says:

    Because, in justice, we owe God worship.

  19. davidjhickey says:

    Because the hand holding during the Lord’s prayer and the cocktail style piano music make me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It’s almost as cool as Oprah’s “Favorite Things”.

  20. Me says:

    In order to glorify God.

  21. jhayes says:

    That’s a list made by the blog Catholic by taking just the headings of articles in Catholic O’Malley’s pastoral letter. For instance no. 9, as written by Cardinal O’Malley is:

    9. We desire to follow God’s loving guidance and to commit to deepening our relationship with God

    God’s commandments and the teachings of the Church that are based upon them are often misunderstood as burdens instead of guidance and wisdom for a joyful and peaceful journey through this life and into the next. God created us and knows what will make us truly happy.

    God’s Third Commandment instructs us to keep the Sabbath holy. For Christians, this weekly Sabbath is Sunday, which the early Christians always called the Lord’s Day. By keeping Sunday for God, by keeping first things first and putting God above other things, we will experience greater order and more peace in our lives.

    The Church calls every one of us to make a commitment to attend Sunday Mass. In doing so, we promise to do our part to keep up our relationship with Christ and with our Church family — the Body of Christ.

    Christ’s relationship to the Church is described in Sacred Scripture as that of a Bridegroom with his Bride.23 His self-sacrificing love is something the Church seeks to reciprocate. It is a model of the love between a husband and a wife. Imagine if a wife, celebrating an anniversary dinner with her husband, told him that she accepted the dinner invitation only to “fulfill an obligation.” How would you feel to be on the receiving end of that message?

    Likewise we are at Mass in response to a commitment of love, not just to fulfill an obligation. Christ eagerly desires to meet us in the Mass and to be present with us at all times. He hopes that we reciprocate His eager desire and make it a personal commitment each week of love and gratitude.

    When I was a seminarian, I remember reading an interview with Flannery O’Connor about what it was like to grow up Catholic in the South. O’Connor said there were very few Catholics and many prejudices against them. She told the story of her best friend who was a Baptist. Flannery often invited her to Mass. Finally, one Sunday the little girl got permission from her mom to accept Flannery’s invitation. Flannery could not wait for the Mass to be over so she could ask her little friend whether she liked it. The little girl said: “WOW. You Catholics really have something special. The sermon was so boring, the music was lousy, the priest mumbled the prayers of a language nobody could understand, and all those people were there!”

    While some complaints about the way the Mass is celebrated are legitimate — and there is no question that we should work to make the celebration of Mass as beautiful as we can — we need to make sure we focus on what is already beautiful — the people gathered, the proclamation of the Word of God, the Eucharistic sacrifice, and the communion we share with God and with each other. Obviously, that is what the people in O’Connor’s parish did. They were not there to be entertained. Most of them were probably there because they realized “sine dominico non possumus” — “without Sunday we cannot live!”

  22. Mary Jane says:

    @ L. – do you have stats to back that up? I’m a cradle Catholic, so are most of my cousins and friends, and we don’t go to Mass because our parents make us go.

  23. tzard says:

    #4 (and #5) sounds really weak – though it uses scriptural language. I would have put it “for the salvation of my wife and family which I bring with me to Mass”.

    I imagine those in a mixed marriage could include “for the conversion of my spouse”.

    For the answering of my particular intentions, which I bring to me to Mass (and general intentions like for the Holy Father).

    For the dead.

    To receiving instruction in the faith? Kind of like #9, but it’s more focused on receiving the guidance, than about following that guidance later (which we could base on instruction elsewhere).

  24. L. says:

    Mary Jane asked: ” L. – do you have stats to back that up? I’m a cradle Catholic, so are most of my cousins and friends, and we don’t go to Mass because our parents make us go.”

    I must not have made it clear that I was writing about Catholic children, since the list, as I read it, was not limited to adult Catholics. So, I have only anecdotal evidence to support what I wrote- I would not have gone to Mass on my own when I was a child, at least not initially, because I did not understand any reason for going other than that my parents insisted, God bless them. I think it’s probable that there are those adult Catholics who go to Mass primarily because their parents, or others, expect them to go.

  25. irishgirl says:

    I’m with introibo-the list sounds wishy-washy.
    I like Father Z’s additions better.
    I would add another to the list: I go to Mass to receive the graces to save my soul and be with God forever in heaven.

  26. Because the Bridegroom and the Bride say, “Come!”

  27. Gregg the Obscure says:

    . . . and, to crib a phrase from my childhood among the separated brethren, “it is meet and right so to do”.

  28. amenamen says:

    Let me count the ways

    The list is necessarily incomplete, as it would be nearly impossible to enumerate all of the reasons for going to Mass. Cardinal O’Malley’s pastoral letter is twelve pages long, and it contains some very good reflections on the importance of going to Mass, on the new English translation, and on the mission of the Church.

    I especially liked his quotation of a high school principal, who said, “I grew up in a family where going to Mass on Sunday was about as optional as breathing.”

    However, I would expand on his reasons 3, 4, and 5 (our parish family, our particular family, our children and grandchildren) to emphasize the universal perspective of the Catholic Church. We are not only members of the “local” community, but rather, members of the whole Church, the Body of Christ, united with the Pope and with the faithful throughout the whole world.

  29. bdchatfi says:

    Expanding on #1 and #2: To be glorified by experiencing His glory. We are dead men in need of Life. The Sacraments are our medicine. Repentance and humility are our state.

  30. Hilaire Belloc on why we need daily Mass:

    In the first village I came to I found that Mass was over, and this justly annoyed me; for what is a pilgrimage in which a man cannot hear Mass every morning? Of all the things I have read about St Louis which make me wish I had known him to speak to, nothing seems to me more delightful than his habit of getting Mass daily whenever he marched down south, but why this should be so delightful I cannot tell. Of course there is a grace and influence belonging to such a custom, but it is not of that I am speaking but of the pleasing sensation of order and accomplishment which attaches to a day one has opened by Mass; a purely temporal, and, for all I know, what the monks back at the ironworks would have called a carnal feeling, but a source of continual comfort to me. Let them go their way and let me go mine.

    This comfort I ascribe to four causes (just above you will find it written that I could not tell why this should be so, but what of that?), and these causes are:

    1. That for half-an-hour just at the opening of the day you are silent and recollected, and have to put off cares, interests, and passions in the repetition of a familiar action. This must certainly be a great benefit to the body and give it tone.

    2. That the Mass is a careful and rapid ritual. Now it is the function of all ritual (as we see in games, social arrangements and so forth) to relieve the mind by so much of responsibility and initiative and to catch you up (as it were) into itself, leading your life for you during the time it lasts. In this way you experience a singular repose, after which fallowness I am sure one is fitter for action and judgement.

    3. That the surroundings incline you to good and reasonable thoughts, and for the moment deaden the rasp and jar of that busy wickedness which both working in one’s self and received from others is the true source of all human miseries. Thus the time spent at Mass is like a short repose in a deep and well-built library, into which no sounds come and where you feel yourself secure against the outer world.

    4. And the most important cause of this feeling of satisfaction is that you are doing what the human race has done for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years. This is a matter of such moment that I am astonished people hear of it so little. Whatever is buried right into our blood from immemorial habit that we must be certain to do if we are to be fairly happy (of course no grown man or woman can really be very happy for long–but I mean reasonably happy), and, what is more important, decent and secure of our souls. Thus one should from time to time hunt animals, or at the very least shoot at a mark; one should always drink some kind of fermented liquor with one’s food–and especially deeply upon great feast-days; one should go on the water from time to time; and one should dance on occasions; and one should sing in chorus. For all these things man has done since God put him into a garden and his eyes first became troubled with a soul. Similarly some teacher or ranter or other, whose name I forget, said lately one very wise thing at least, which was that every man should do a little work with his hands.

    Oh! what good philosophy this is, and how much better it would be if rich people, instead of raining the influence of their rank and spending their money on leagues for this or that exceptional thing, were to spend it in converting the middle-class to ordinary living and to the tradition of the race. Indeed, if I had power for some thirty years I would see to it that people should be allowed to follow their inbred instincts in these matters, and should hunt, drink, sing, dance, sail, and dig; and those that would not should be compelled by force.

    Now in the morning Mass you do all that the race needs to do and has done for all these ages where religion was concerned; there you have the sacred and separate Enclosure, the Altar, the Priest in his Vestments, the set ritual, the ancient and hierarchic tongue, and all that your nature cries out for in the matter of worship.

    (from The Path to Rome)

  31. Fr. W says:

    1. At Mass, we offer the Blood of Christ in atonement for our sins.
    2. At Mass we renew our Covenant with Jesus Christ. This is our ‘yes.’
    3. At Mass, Jesus asks, ‘where are you? are you still one of my disciples?’
    4. Heb 10:25 – Let us not forsake our assembly as is the custom of some…for if we sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there remains no longer a sacrifice for sins, but a certain dreadful expectation of judgment and the fury of fire.’

  32. jbosco88 says:

    We could add “because He loved us so, He died to save us”

  33. josephx23 says:

    Mr. Dailey, thank you for that lovely quote from Belloc on the virtues of daily Mass.

  34. Precentrix says:

    “Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus…”

    About says it all, really.

  35. Joseph says:

    In deep gratitude for everything in whom all good originates.

  36. Jenice says:

    I would add these:

    1. I love the Mass.
    2. I’m grateful that the Lord called me out of darkness and into the wonderful light of the Catholic Church.
    3. I want to become more holy.

  37. tonesing says:

    1) The uplifting song of the St. Louis Jesuits!
    2) The Sign of Peace!
    3) Deus vult!

  38. Centristian says:

    To pray for stronger Church leaders with more forceful voices.

    I don’t have any beefs with anything in particular on the Cardinal’s list, but the whole of it does have the flavour of something that would come from a man who refers to himself as “Cardinal Sean” on his official website (which he does). It is not always what we present, but the way we present it, that makes an impact.

    The language “Cardinal Sean” uses makes something of a weak impact, at least upon me. It is typically soft in that softened language that modern clergy seem to default to. I respectfully submit that our priests and prelates need to learn how to talk like men, again. Not like bombastic jerks, mind you. No. But like men.

    Perhaps they can begin by ceasing to call themselves “Cardinal Sean” and the like. It’s stylistically incorrect in any case. He is not “Cardinal Sean” or even “Cardinal Sean O’Malley.” He is “Sean (,)Cardinal O’Malley.” A cardinal’s style includes his rank (cardinal) and his surname name (as a form for his title). His Christian name(s) precede his rank and title (surname). It follows the same pattern employed by British nobility. One is, for example, “Sean, Viscount O’Malley” and never “Viscount Sean O’Malley,” “O’Malley” being the title that is coupled with the rank, and not “Sean O’Malley.” But I digress.

    At any rate, cardinals: be cardinals! We expect you to be cardinals. We expect you to be strong and somewhat princely. Don’t feel the need to soften your words into cotton candy and to mutilate even your titles into comfortably modern fluff on our account. Be princes of the Church. Have some bearing. Be a bit regal in your language and comportment. Say, for example, “We go to Mass to give due public worship to the Almighty Who created Us because He expects as much and because as much is due His (ineffable) majesty. We go to Mass because Christ Our Lord, Himself, commanded that we “do this in memory” of Him. &c.”

    “To gather and pray with our parish family” somehow doesn’t seem to me to approach the level of the language that a Prince of the Church ought to employ, at least not as I imagine things. Perhaps something like, “To dutifully join in the corporate public worship of Our Heavenly Father, in Christ, as members of Christ’s Mystical Body. ”

    Let’s elevate the tone, especially in the case of those who don the sacred purple. How prelates say things is just as important as what they say.

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