Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Reasons I Go to Church on Sunday

This picture is an actual picture my Church in the winter that I found on the internet today.

I know. It is Tuesday. By my own scheduling, I should have wrote something funny yesterday for Life is Funny, and something I learned today for What I Learned. But I didn't. I like these blog carnivals, and hope to return to them at the end of the week. They help me focus on a blog topic. But for the last couple of Sundays, I found myself thinking about the reasons I go to Church, and I feel moved to share them. You see, I am sure I hate to get up on a Sunday morning as much as anyone else. And God, who knows all, knows I am not holier than anyone else. So why don't I sleep in? Why not snuggle up with Bob, since sometimes he works on Saturday, or I teach CCD on Saturday? It is definitely all I really want to do when I wake up at 7:00 Sunday morning. Why not do it?

Because it wouldn't actually make me happy. Really. It feels like it would at 7:00 a.m. (I know, not terribly early, but come on...SUNDAY...it might as well be 5:00 a.m. ) But it wouldn't. Going to Church on Sunday is important to me. Why?

1) The Lord commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy. That I must do, because God Himself says he wants that of me. I know, there are many ways people choose to do that. I don't actually doubt the validity of many of them, so long as the intent and purpose is to obey God. But the Church I choose to belong to , the Roman Catholic Church, says a Catholic MUST go to Mass every Sunday as part of keeping holy the Sabbath day. Why would I choose to be a member of any Church or organization, but then also choose to flout its rules? If I join a club, I go to every meeting and follow the rubrics. It was my own choice to belong. The same with Church. No one forced me to be Catholic. I chose it. So I must also choose to follow its rules as to how to keep holy the Sabbath day.
2) I believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Transubstantiation. I believe I am receiving Jesus's actual Body and Blood in Holy Communion, just as He offered at the Last Supper, and told the apostles to continue. Why would I skip Mass if I believe I am going to receive Jesus? That wouldn't make any sense.
3) Once I get to Church, I see people I know in the parking lot and vestibule. I also see people I know after Mass. Since teaching CCD and joining the Italian Catholic Federation, it seems that I know lots of people. I like having friends and Church, and touching base with them weekly, and being supported and encouraged by them. I also like knowing people I see because it has helped me be less judgemental.
For example, on Mother's Day, one of the ushers wished me a Happy Mother's Day. Some of you know how desperately I have wanted children, and can imagine how bitter I feel when someone wishes me a Happy Mother's Day, and I can't have kids. But the man who wished it to me was a sweet little old man I know from ICF...not well enough that he knows my story, or even remembers that I am childless. Just well enough to know that we both mean well, and would never purposely hurt the other. I knew it would hurt him to know that those words stabbed and twisted in my heart, and I like him too well to do that. I chose to confuse him by smiling, and wishing him a Happy Mother's Day as well, which seemed every bit as appropriate as wishing it to a childless woman....At one time, I don't think I would have been purposely rude to him, but I would have said I am not a mother, and been obviously upset by it. I would have gone home seething that the ushers should know better than to generically wish women without children or corsages in Church a Happy Mother's Day. This time I left chuckling. Poor man. Wondering why I wished him a Happy Mother's Day...
4) I love to sing the hymns at Church. Most of the time, it doesn't really matter which hymn. I say most of the time because I don't like it when the age old words are changed to make them more inclusive. I think we should increase our understanding to be inclusive, not change the words. For instance, "Pleased as man with man to dwell" in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing gets changed to "Pleased as us with us to dwell" every Christmas. There are other songs, but I am not sure you would recognize them as well. I like singing the hymns the way I know it. Also, it drives me crazy when we skip my favorite verse in a song due to time constraints.
That happens to the last stanza of Amazing Grace all the time. I know that it wasn't actually in the original, but still, it is a beautiful thought that reminds me that we are doing now what we will be doing joyfully one day in heaven: Singing praise to Him who we could not help but praise if only we know Him. And I love being reminded of that...
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining like the sun,
We've no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
Still, inclusivity and watching out for time constraints pleases some. It can't be all about me. It's Church. It ought to be all about Him, and I am not sure He cares one way or the other. I usually just add the last verse in my head anyways. As for inclusivity in hymns, unfortunately I know most of them and choose not to use the missellette to follow most of the time, so I end up singing it the old way anyway. I know. Someone ought to be blogging about me and how I mess up the hymns at Church every once in a while. Maybe they do....
5) The sermon. It is good to hear the priest's thoughts on the bible passages we read and listen to. Different priests have different styles. Father Andrew is profound in his simplicity. Father Ron is often brilliant, as is Father William. Father Ted can use the word to admonish us to be better, as well we should sometimes. I need this. I need to hear the thoughts of someone else on scripture, someone more learned and dedicated. It is good for me.
6) Bob would not stay and snuggle with me anyways. He loves going to Church on Sunday. He would leave me home alone under the covers. Then what would even be the point of staying home, am I right people?

Yes. Sometimes we go to Mass on Saturday evening instead. But even when we don't, and go on Sunday, it is SO worth it!

Please feel free to share in the comment section how you choose to keep the Sabbath holy.


Candace Jean July 16 said...

I lived with a Catholic girl in college for 4 years. She was away from home and never went to church on Sunday. She never understood why I, a Lutheran, went to church when I "didn't have to." What she never understood is that I DID have to. It was so much a part of me, and I needed the spiritual feeding.

We didn't go to church last weekend (out of town, other lame excuses) and it felt awful. It has become so much a part of my life that I feel very empty and my week just doesn't go right. We "stalk" a contemporary church down the road on Saturday evenings, and we go on Sunday morning to our home church. The tide may be shifting to the former, but for now, this feels good. I'm glad churches let you stalk. And hover. And even volunteer and take communion if you're not a card-carrying member.

And if we're going to leave out a verse due to time constraints, PLEASE not the last verse of Amazing Grace!! What's another 90 seconds for those awesome words?

sherri said...

This is beautiful Helen. I go for many of the same reasons. I feel as if I'm missing out when I don't go. Beyond the reason of He told us to keep His Day Holy, and forsake not the assembling of ourselves together, I get LIFE when I go, and wisdom, and direction. My pastor is an amazing preacher of the gospel and I love to worship along with fellow believers as well. It is also very much a part of who I am.

I've always told my sons, that we can pray, and fast, and worship and read the Bible alone and at home, but the there's a couple of things you can't get alone...fellowhip of other believers, and a different PERSPECTIVE. I don't think it's always wise for us to be alone with our own thoughts and ideas, the perspective of another is refreshing!

Helen said...

Candy, how sad for your college room mate. Church is a wonderful place to me. Sometimes I have tears streaming down my face, sometimes I can't help but smile during Mass. Amazingly, if I look around, different people have different reactions. But there is so much there that is worth going for...
Sherri, exactly. Someone else's perspective can shape our own. That's so important. I have found passages in scripture that didn't make any sense to me until Father Ted explained it. Once I even wrote him a note telling him that. I am glad that your pastor is an amazing preacher. The priests at my parish are good homilists each in their own way.

Beth said...

Hmmm...it sounds like I'm repeating everyone else...but a lot of it has to do with:
1. Fellowship- our church family is just that- a family to us! We help each other out and plan together how we're going to live out Christianity outside of church.
2. Teaching- Definitely need an outside perspective to help me understand new stuff about the Bible and challenge me.
3. Worship through music/prayer- it's so important to me to do this with others...plus if we don't show up, there's no one else to lead the music. ;)

We're switching our service time to Sunday nights from Saturday nights. We had nothing against Saturdays...I kind of liked it because it gave us a whole day to spend Sunday with our family...but it is interesting that in our area, even the people who don't go to church seem to think Sunday's the day for church and we didn't want to freak anyone out with the Saturday thing. Go figure?

CM said...

Can I go with "what everyone said"? I love the community of everyone praying together. In a special way at Mass, I love that across the globe we are listening to the same readings and praying the same prayers.

And I go for Communion. I know Jesus is present everywhere, but there is something different about the Eucharist. A little Life for my week!

Billy Coffey said...

I decided to come back here even though this is anti-Yankee land, and I'm glad I did. This was a great post, Helen.

Helen said...

Beth, I really like having the option of either Saturday or Sunday (unless, of course, I am volunteering for something.)
CM Great point about the readings. It is good to know if I am on vacation that my own parish at home is reflecting on the same readings, so I am still connected with them.
Billy Coffey, thank you.

Jim H said...

I know I'm very late to the party - came over from Sheri's place today - just wanted to tell you a funny story - I go to a very large Baptist church in the Nashville area, and about a month ago I attended a Friday night/Saturday morning seminar for teachers and came THIS close to walking up to a lady and asking her if she was you. At the last moment, I realized she had a nametag on, and it didn't say "Helen" so I saved myself the embarassment. But now every Sunday when I pass her in a hallway or in the foyer, it still makes me smile -
Thanks for sharing your reasons for going to church on Sunday