All Catholics grow up knowing at least 2 things. We have to go mass every Sunday (or Sat evening) and go for confession at least twice a year. Of course being the obedient and law-abiding Catholic that I am, I did exactly what was required. I was bored at mass, I looked around, sometimes I sneaked out to take a yawn, I wondered what was for dinner…but hey, I am at mass and I don’t have to go confession for not being at mass!
For people who know me, I’m quite guilty of living life without putting much thought into things. Days go by and I do things that I know I have to do and life goes on. If I had placed more thought into why a loving God would place a law to bore us to death – nothing would have made sense!
After WYD 2016, I made a little progress with my mass experience. I was starting to go for daily mass. My WYD cell group comprised of wonderful mass-loving folks who would invite me to join them for daily morning mass. Being their cell-group leader made me feel obligated and perhaps a little guilty if I were to reject the invitation, so I went. I must say it was extremely difficult. Because of where I live, heading to morning mass involved waking up 5+ in the morning and taking an hour long journey to town. I’m simply not happy to wake up to a dark sky! But I became very proud of myself – I chose to believe that because I accepted the invitation and was there at mass with them, I was helping people to get closer to God. I was proud of the fact that I attended daily mass. I thought that I was doing great!
But soon after, the zeal for morning mass died down. I was exhausted, I wasn’t having enough rest. We got together less and less for mass and when people did not invite me, I found myself choosing to do other things instead of going for mass. Slowly, mass became a place I went when I felt I needed to for others.
Here and there I was still being invited to mass. Some time later, we were introduced to a book “A Biblical walk through the mass” which spoke volumes of the significance of every part of the mass. More on this topic here! After actually understanding the mass as the ultimate wedding feast and union with Jesus where the sacrifice of the Lamb is made real and present at the altar, I started to really appreciate this gift of mass that Jesus has given us. I realise I was starting to get more and more attracted to attending mass.
It was like falling in love. I wouldn’t attribute this attraction entirely to the knowledge that I gained from the book – although of course it was a pivotal point for me. For example if you want to love somebody, you must start by knowing something about the person. But to fall in love, it must happen with our heart. And somehow, it did for me.
As I started receiving Jesus more and more in the most intimate way possible, I started feeling more and more aware of how there are times I can be very far from Him. This is especially so when we prepare ourselves at the beginning of mass to confess our sins and to ask upon His mercy so that we are made clean again and worthy to receive communion. That is the moment when I wonder – am I indeed worthy body and mind to receive Jesus into myself?
This brings me to confession. The most terrifying experience every Catholic has to endure. It is still very terrifying to me! Surely nobody wishes to acknowledge and reflect upon our weaknesses, let alone proclaim it to others and to God. But it is even more terrifying to be at odds with God. It is like squabbling with a lover and although reconciliation comes with a little pain and dying to oneself – would you choose instead to remain at cold war or to never engage in a deep intimate way that you cannot without reconciling?
God indeed works in mysterious ways. I guess there is some wisdom in the ‘laws’ of the Catholic church. It is precisely because some of us are so unteachable that we have to start with the ‘bare minimum’ to get us to mass or confession. But the church recognises the grace and power of God and hence she knows, that in some ways some how, God will touch and move our hearts in power ways even as we stifle our yawns at the next mass.