This Sunday Missal has been prepared for the benefit primarily of adult Catholic laity. It contains the texts of Sunday and Holy Day Masses, as developed in accord with the Second Vatican Council. There is a richness of biblical, liturgical, theological and devotional instruction in each Sunday Mass. Those who have worked to prepare this book for the laity hope that this Missal will unlock some of those religious treasures for those who use this book.
Catholic living is intimately connected with faithful attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Attendance at Mass is a barometer of a faithful and practicing Catholic.
Occasionally these days we may hear someone questioning the necessity of Sunday Mass. So many things, it is said, have been changed. Is it possible that the Sunday Mass tradition will be changed? Or that Catholics will be allowed to go on any day of the week? Or that there will be no obligation to go, but just an encouragement?
The answer to all these questions is "No." Far from disappearing as an outdated obligation, the Sunday celebration takes on greater importance in the light of the Second Vatican Council. We have all been baptized in Christ. We are, therefore, not alone. We are together in Christ's Mystical Body, the Church. And so we assemble as did our ancestors in this faith on the day of our Lord's Resurrection. To remember and to renew just as He told us to do. To read our sacred
books and learn from them. To encourage one another in the Christian life. To celebrate His life, death and Resurrection. To share in the oneness of His Body and Blood. And it is precisely in the Sunday celebration of our parish that we come together to honor God in this highest form of prayer.
The Mass is a celebration. The Sabbath and the Sunday Mass should be, as the Vatican II Fathers said, occasions of "joy and freedom from work."
It is a good and necessary thing that the obligation to worship God publicly, formally, liturgically, should bind us. The obligation should be understood and interpreted in sensible fashion, of course. But a serious responsibility before God to gather every week on the Lord's Day at Mass is good for all members of the Christian community.
We need this regular worship to survive spiritually, just as we need Holy Communion to maintain spiritual life in us. The U.S. bishops have said: "We too must express in signs our faith in Christ and each other, our love for Christ and for each other, or they will die."
But going to Mass Sunday after Sunday simply from obligation that is a pitiful state of affairs. It is better than not going at all, of course. But the solution is to adopt a more mature, more Christian, more Vatican 11 approach to Sunday and Holy Day Mass: to attend with alertness a ceremony that is meaningful because we understand it and actively participate in it.