.- Weekly Mass attendance for Catholics should be a “commitment of love” like the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner, said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston.
“The Thanksgiving meal of our Catholic family occurs every Sunday,” said Cardinal O’Malley in a Nov. 20 pastoral letter on the importance of Sunday Mass.
He observed that Americans are willing to endure traffic jams and crowded airports in order to share Thanksgiving dinner with the people they love and because their presence matters.“Our presence is a sign to each other of the gift and the importance of family in our lives,” he said.
Jesus eagerly desires to celebrate a meal of Thanksgiving with us each Sunday, said the cardinal, explaining that the word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek word for “thanksgiving.”
Cardinal O’Malley also addressed the large number of Catholics who do not attend Mass each Sunday and told them they are missed. Recalling the witness of martyrs who gave their lives for the sake of the Mass, he urged people not to take the Mass for granted or to allow it to become a mere routine.
He also spoke about the perception that attending Mass on Sunday is only an obligation. Instead, Cardinal O’Malley described going to Sunday Mass as a response to God’s self-giving love.
Other benefits of Mass attendance are that it strengthens our families and offers an important witness to those around us, he said.
Cardinal O’Malley reached out to Catholics who have fallen away from the Mass, telling them that they are loved and missed by the Catholic community.
He asked forgiveness of those who had been hurt by a member of the Church, and called on them to attend Mass even if they are unable to receive the Eucharist due to “an irregularity or moral struggle.”
Simply attending Mass can provide actual grace to overcome such struggles and find a path to reconciliation, he said.
The cardinal also addressed Boston Catholics, urging them to bring people into the Church, both those who have never encountered the Catholic Church and those who have fallen away.
He emphasized the importance of one-on-one evangelization and personal invitations to come to Mass.
As Catholics, we have a duty to “invite the world to our family gathering,” said Cardinal O’Malley.
He encouraged the faithful to participate every Sunday in “the supreme prayer of the Church, the Eucharist, our Thanksgiving celebration.”
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