Going to Mass on Sundays can be problematic at times. Faced with the choice of a walk down the beach, breakfast at the local cafe or watching a young family member’s sporting event can seem a lot more desirable than sitting inside a church for an hour, even more so when we are enjoying beautiful autumn weather.
But all of those other past-times give us short-lived enjoyment, or a fair bit of disappointment if the young family member loses that oh-so-important game. Once we’ve finished our coffee and walked the dog, we move on to the next activity that we think will make us happy. And then we go back to work.Our experience of celebrating Mass can vary, depending on the quality of the music and liturgy, the relevance of the homily and the participation of the congregation. It might also depend on our own mood and state of mind. But there is usually a take-home message and a spiritual nourishment that sustains us as we go about our daily lives in the week ahead.
Take, for example, the reading of Matthew 6:24-34 from Sunday February 6 which begins:Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
When I went to Mass on this day, I had a fleeting thought that perhaps I should be doing something else but when I listened to the Word and saw the phrase “Don’t worry, be happy” written in bold on the overhead slides, I was very pleased with the choice I’d made.
It reminded me of my dear mum, now departed, who was very fond of saying “well there’s no point in worrying, it won’t change anything”. It was a pragmatic philosophy she applied to raising five children who could have caused her a great deal of worry at most stages of their lives!
As a mother, wife, granddaughter, sister and full-time worker, there is never any shortage of things to worry about so what a great way to start my week with the knowledge that God is telling me not to be anxious. It was like this huge weight off my shoulders as I was reminded that worrying doesn’t do any good and that putting your trust in God is the best way of dealing with any of the seemingly difficult aspects of our lives. It’s also a lot cheaper than seeing a therapist!
It’s not that bad things will never happen; they can and they do. But constantly worrying about what might or might not happen is merely a distraction from the main game, which is to see all the good and beautiful things around us, to live our lives to the full and to share our gifts with others.Pope Francis spoke about Matthew’s reading before praying the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on February 26.
When life gets difficult, he told the pilgrims, trust in God and don’t worry unnecessarily about tomorrow. “Trusting in him doesn’t magically solve problems, but it allows for facing them with the right spirit — courageously.”
Pope Francis said many people didn’t realise that God was a “great friend, ally, father,” making this a world of “orphans” who would rather seek security in earthly goods and wealth.
Over the Easter period, many non-practising Catholics will attend the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday and the Easter Vigil or Sunday Mass. It might well be the only time, other than Christmas, that they step inside a church.
But rather than worry about the fact that these people don’t attend Mass regularly, we should be happy that they are still connected to their faith and confident that the Easter message of hope will leave its mark. Who knows, they might just want to come back for more.