Two weeks ago in my column, I talked about how one important aspect of being Church is gathering together as a Church in prayer, in the public communal liturgical prayer that is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This is one aspect of being Church that is becoming less and less valued or prioritized in society. People are often busy or tired or say, “Father, why do I have to go to Church, when I can just pray on my own?” Why go to Mass?
I listed seven reasons. For the next number of weeks, I am unpacking those reasons a bit more. So now, continuing from last week on this Feast of Corpus Christi (where we recognize the beauty and gift of the Eucharist – as if that is not reason enough itself to go), I list my next reason:
Reason 3) It’s important to communally recognize ourselves as sinners
The past year has certainly been intense and intensely divisive, with some really angry and visceral things in the news (through COVID-19, racial issues, and a brutal and polarizing political season, etc.), where it seems there are a lot of people on news/media/internet who are constantly outraged about something.
But one constant theme through all of it: it’s always somebody else’s fault; it’s always someone else who needs to change. One thing I’ve never heard or seen from any news outlet or political group, is anyone ever saying, “you know what? it’s (even partially) my fault. I share in the blame.”
It’s our nature as human beings, of course, to rationalize and justify all of our words and actions, everything we do. Sometimes it’s easier to defend and explain away what I did, rather than to admit that what I did was wrong, what I did actually conflicts with what I claim to value and believe.
This, however, is not a new situation. It’s a part of our fallen human condition as old as the hills, that goes all the way back to the very first most ancient people on earth: Adam and Eve.
This ancient story is profoundly insightful into our human nature. When God appeared to Adam after he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, and asked him what he had done, Adam DID NOT admit to his guilt or wrongdoing…what did he do? Blamed someone else. “Well God, THAT woman who YOU put here (blaming Eve AND God), she gave me the fruit.” And when God asked Eve, rather than admitting to her guilt she said, “Well God, that SERPENT TRICKED me.” Because of this broken aspect of our human condition, there is something INCREDIBLY PROFOUND that we don’t always appreciate in simply gathering as a community weekly, and ADMITTING our sin, our guilt: “I confess to almighty God…that have greatly sinned… through MY fault, through MY fault, through my most grievous fault…”
This is something RADICALLY countercultural, and it’s something that we, as humans, most DEFINITELY need in order to be better, to grow as human beings. It humbles us, keeps us honest, and actually helps us to make the world better…because, rather than passing the blame (and thus our responsibility), we recognize that in some way, the broken state of the world is my fault…which brings us to the question then, of how can I (with the help of God), be better, do better, and make the world a better place. This leads into next week’s column, my next reason to go to Mass: Reason 4) To ponder how to live and love better (both individually and communally)
PS: on the Feast of Corpus Christi, I encourage you to learn about some EUCHARISTIC MIRACLES: Miraculous events that confirm our faith in the REAL PRESENCE of Christ present in the Eucharist. You can learn at the following websites: