Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rejoice and be Glad

All who believed were together and had all things in common.
- Acts 2:44
It's interesting how much our surroundings affect our mood and behavior. Three days ago I attended the Easter Vigil. Twenty-seven people were received into the church (including seventeen baptisms). The four-hour mass seemed over in a flash, the whole church was filled with joy and celebration, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was strong. My heart was bursting with happiness and love for the Lord, and I was still buzzing long after midnight.

The next day I also attended Easter Sunday mass with my family, and what a difference. Despite the joyous occasion, the mood felt dull. The singing was muted, the people looked distracted. It felt like any other Sunday, and the lack of celebration for the Risen Lord almost broke my heart.

The difference was the attitude of the congregation. On Saturday night, every single person was there because they wanted to be. They were ready and excited to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, and the initiation of twenty-seven new Catholics into their family. They expressed their joy in song, and the Spirit shone through in the smiles on their faces. On Sunday, I could sense that many of the people were there only because they felt they had to be. It was Easter Sunday, it was their duty to be there. For many that is the only day of the year they even attend mass. They weren't really thinking about the reason for the celebration. They didn't want to sing, they didn't shout the Alleluia with joy. They just wanted to do their duty and get back home.

If attending mass feels like a duty or a chore, we're really missing the point. We go to church to worship God, to give thanks and praise to Jesus for dying for our sins, and to celebrate His saving grace. Every Sunday should fill us with excitement and joy, as we once again profess our faith and receive Jesus bodily into our own bodies. If we truly understand our faith, and what happens at the mass, we should long for Sunday to come around again. We should desire to celebrate and worship with our brothers and sisters as often as possible, even more than once a week. We should be able to draw strength and support from our fellow worshipers. We should build up each others faith, and rejoice together in all that our Lord has done for us.

When I got home Saturday night, my face hurt from smiling, my hands hurt from clapping, and my throat hurt from cheering and singing. And I couldn't wait to do it all over again. I want to feel like that after every single mass. And I pray that everyone who professes the Christian faith would feel the same way.

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