When I went to the Diocese of St. Augustine Eucharist Congress, I heard a couple excellent talks from Fr. Larry Richards.
In one he was asking those attending about belief in the Eucharist – going through stages asking us to affirm this belief. Then he asks – then why don’t you go to daily Mass then.
At the time I felt rather satisfied about myself since I do attend daily Mass. Still this question got me thinking more about this and what caveats and distinctions this questions entails.
For one, fully believing in the reality of the Eucharist and not going to daily Mass is certainly not necessarily proof that you “don’t actually believe”.
I remember scouring through Masstimes.org trying to find a Mass I could go to before work. My criteria being first that it is early enough that I can get to work on time in the morning. Second that the distance is somewhat reasonable.
The first criteria pretty much reduced my list to only two possibilities. All other Mass times, even living in a large city. were too late. The parishes most directly on route to work had morning Mass after I needed to get to work. Getting to work by 8:00 A.M. is probably a normal situation for many people.
So I consider myself lucky that of my two choices – one does not take me too far off my route to work. The other choice takes me more time – but is great when I want to be able to go to confession on a First Friday or other circumstances.
If these choices had not been available, my only other choice would have been a Mass after work which would have been an hour drive one way. Traffic at the time would have likely made this longer and also likely me getting their late. Still I could have seen myself trying this a couple days during the work week if I did not have my primary choices. So does this mitigate my belief in the Eucharist? Perhaps in some aspect it does as I put limits on what I am willing to do. Overall I think not as I would be happier to not be put in such a circumstance.
It does make me wonder how much consideration is done by parishes when they set their morning Mass times? Apparently not much since all the other parishes had Mass times after 8:00 A.M. Or maybe I am not taking in how much this is dependent on the availability of priests and all the demands on their time.
Even if all the parishes had earlier Mass times how much would this enable more people to be able to attend? I remember one wit on Facebook mentioning that if you want to feel young, go to daily Mass. It’s funny because it is mostly true. The mix seems to be mostly people who are likely retired. I’m no spring chicken at 59 years of age – but often am close to the youngest one there. Still no doubt there are people who work and would love to be able to attend Mass. Plus there are plenty of other situations such as those taking care of children who logistically would find it difficult to attend.
Still I would like parishes to make allowances where possible to increase access to daily Mass and to encourage people to go. I remember how the late Fr. Leon had set the time for the noon Mass to 12:10 to allow people working downtown to have time to get to Mass during lunch hour. This beside having a 7:30 A.M. Mass. The parish I attend morning Mass at actually has a 7:00 A.M. and 9:00 A.M. Mass. One parish I use to go to had a 5:00 P.M. Mass which enabled my wife and I to go together. I believe this Mass was cancelled because there was some annoyance that many of the people attending were from other parishes. I remember being quite surprised when I first heard this was considered an annoyance.
So getting back to what Fr. Larry Richards said as a challenge, no doubt he had the necessary caveats in mind. Still it was a question meant to be a challenge in that if you do truly believe do you act on this belief. I am pretty grateful that circumstances do allow me to attend daily Mass – I need all the help I can get.