Thursday 17 June 2021

Why go to Mass? - Bishop Michael Evans - Encountering Christ in the Eucharist

Why go to Mass? 
Encountering Christ in the Eucharist
ISBN 9780851839660
eISBN 9781784692575
CTS Booklet DO639

A few years ago, I stumbled across the books and booklets from the Catholic Truth Society quite by accident. I was researching an author I had run across, and was trying to track down all of her works. Soon I had a long lost of books from the CTS on my Wishlist, and it seems that for everyone I read I end up with 1 or 2 more on my wish list. At the writing of this review I have read almost 200 titles from the CTS over the last 4 years and currently have over 200 either in my ‘to be read’ pile or on my wish list still. I have read many in the CTS Biographies and also Saints of the Isles Series, and the Great Saints Series. This book was originally published in 1995 it was revised in 1998. The eBook edition was released in 2017.

The description of this booklet is:

“Some Catholics go to Mass simply because they have always done so, out of obligation, or because their parents, teachers or peers demand that they come. Others have either given up completely or are still searching. Relying greatly upon the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, Fr Michael Evans provides a beautiful summary of the meaning of the Mass and the powerful reasons why it holds the central position in the life of the Church and Christians. How can we love God, and our neighbour without the love of Christ?”

And the chapters are:

Catechism of the Catholic Church
Celebrating the Christian Mystery
The Eucharist and the Mystery of the Trinity
Thanksgiving to the Father
Sacrificial Memorial of Christ
An Easter Communion
The Church's living memory
New meaning, new value
The presence of Christ
Through faith not the senses
Historical thought
Reception and Adoration
Christ the Priest
The Mass of all Ages
Communion with Christ
Communion with one another
Communion with the poor and oppressed
‘Ite, missa est’
A service to others
Forward to the Future
Sacrament of Love

My first time through this book I highlighted three passages.

“‘Going to Mass’ has always been a key sign of a committed Catholic, from those first Christians who met in their houses for ‘the breaking of bread’ (Acts 2: 42, 46), to Catholics who risked their lives by celebrating Mass during times of persecution, to those Catholics today who make a conscious choice to take an active part in the life and worship of the Church. In every century there have been Catholics who have opted out of the Church’s worship, but taking part in the Mass, above all on Sundays, has always been seen as central and crucial for living fully the Catholic faith and life. Coming to Mass, taking part in a Catholic Eucharist every Sunday, is still the main visible sign of being a Catholic. Living the Mass, taking an active part in it and allowing its power to transform our lives, is what being a Catholic is all about (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1389, 2177– 9; all references are to this Catechism unless otherwise noted).” 

“We come to Mass to share in the wonder of our Father’s love, to participate in the saving work of Jesus his Son, and to be transformed by the Spirit of holiness. From our Sunday celebration, we go forth together to be and to live what we have celebrated. For the rest of the week (or for the rest of the day if we go to Mass more often) our life as Christian communities, families and individuals flows from the Mass and looks towards the next celebration. Every Mass is also a reminder that there is a greater life to come: in the Eucharist we already share that heavenly life, and look forward to its fulfilment: ‘We hope to enjoy for ever the vision of your glory’ (Eucharistic Prayer 3).”


“Is this dimension of thanksgiving central enough to our own understanding and celebration of the Eucharist? Do we come to the Eucharist consciously united with all creation in praise of the Father, simply to lift up our hearts to God because ‘it is right to give him thanks and praise’?”

I admit it was not easy to pick up and read this book. But it was also one I felt was important to read. After 16 months of lockdowns, stay at home orders, social distancing … It was hard to read a book about attending mass. In part because I have only been in person a handful of times over those months. At the beginning I attended mass in French (Which I had not done in over 30 years), I attended the Latin Mass, and the Extraordinary Form. I was able to virtually attend masses all over the world with priests I followed on social media, whose books I have reviewed, and some who are friends. But I so desperately miss being able to go early and pray and prepare for mass. Or stay after and just spend time in front of the Tabernacle. I miss mass and confession more than anything else during these times. 

This volume does an amazing job of showing us the importance and centrality of Mass to the Christian faith and living out our Catholic faith. It makes clear why we are to attend, and what we should be experience. It helps us to remember the centrality of this experience to our faith and hopefully our lives. 

This was a wonderful book to read. No matter how heart-breaking. It is one I will treasure. And pray that we get back to mass in person soon. Another great read from the Catholic Truth Society!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan! For other reviews of books from the Catholic Truth Society click here.

Books by Bishop Michael Evans:
Why be Confirmed?
Is Jesus Really Present in the Eucharist?
Mary, Mother of the Lord, Sign of Grace, Faith and Holiness
Being a Catholic

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