Thanking God By Attending
by Rev. Albert F. Ernst, O.S.F.S.
Attending Sunday Mass fulfills one obligation Catholics have toward God. But Catholics have other duties which the Mass enables them to fulfill as well. Let me explain.
Why do we sent letters home? Why do people give gifts or flowers to one another? What do parents think of children who never call them?
God is a Spirit, but He is also a person. He is just as much a person as you or I. He has intelligence and free will. He is eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing. He is everywhere. Moreover, He is our Father. We became His children at Baptism. Now, if we really knew Him as He is, we should realize that He is likeable, loveable and attractive. Everything good in any creature is in Him to the highest degree.
We naturally praise a good athlete, scientist, writer or artist. Is it not natural then that we should praise the Creator who made people capable of being good athletes, scientists, writers or artists, who gave them the talent and the ability to be stars in their fields? Besides, we are obliged to praise God for we are entirely dependant upon Him and He has been good to us. He created the soul of each human being. That means our ability to think, will and choose comes from Him. He made us His children at Baptism, raised us to a supernatural plane of living and destined us to enjoy His presence in heaven. He provides for us. He gave us the power to see, to hear and to speak. He gave man the power to invent the radio, TV, and the airplane. He arranged the law by which a leaf grows, a tree grows and you and I grow. Our first duty is to praise Him, to give Him credit for all these things. They are outstanding accomplishments. When a baseball player makes a home run, we praise the player not the bat. The same holds true for anything on this earth. God created it, He made it, therefore, praise Him.
Sometimes pride and selfishness gets hold on us. We fail to obey Godís commandments. We neglect to put Him first. We choose to do our will in place of the will of God. In other words we offend Him by committing sin. Should we not apologize? Should we not make up for that. Of course we should.
Our second duty is to beg His pardon and make atonement or reparation for our sins.
When people give us gifts, we thank them. That is the proper thing to do. Life itself is a gift, a glorious gift. Roses, beautiful sunsets, water, food, trees, radio, TV, automobiles and electricity are all gifts. The soul, Baptism, health, talent, success, the Church, and Christ in Holy Communion were all given to us. To whom should we be grateful? To friends, parents, to teachers? Yes, but God most of all because He made it all possible. Everything in life was loaned to us to see if we would use it to honor God.
Our third duty is gratitude and thanksgiving. When we start working for an employer we first ask him what he wants us to do and how he wants it done. For each of us, life is a new job, our first job. God has given each of us the task of becoming Christ-like. Is it not natural then, that we should ask Him how He wants that done. No student, no adult is independent, be he rich or poor, talented or untalented. Only the conceited and spiritually blind are unwilling to pray, to ask for help and guidance on how to live.
Our fourth duty is petition, which is to ask God for grace and help.
1. We praise people for doing great things. God performs the greatest of all tasks.
2. We apologize to people if we offend them. Apologize to God for the sins committed.
3. We thank people if they give us a gift, God gave us everything we have.
We ask an employer what he wants and
how he wants it done. God, too, has given us a job, ask Him
how He wants it done, ask Him also for His help.
We should act toward God as we do toward others. We express these things openly to others through praise, words and gifts. Why not express publicly and outwardly by some gift or present what we feel inwardly? Does not God deserve public tribute? If a gift is used to honor some human person, or to express what we think of that person, why is it not natural to use a gift to show God what we think of Him. We give medals and trophies to heroes, but what could we human beings give to God/ Everything is already His. The answer to that difficulty comes from our leader, Christ. The Mass, which we may and should use to fulfill any or all of the four-fold duties to our Father. It is a means of paying public and collective honor.