We’re almost at the end of holy week with Easter coming this Sunday. Everybody getting their Sunday best for church services and preparing for their annual family picnic at their favorite park and even staying overnight to reserve their space. Most of them are Christians who believe in the risen Christ.
As I recall from my earlier days as a youngster, we were not having picnics or gathering in my barrio. Our whole sense of holy week was devoted to our traditional religious events during the week. For example, on Palm Sunday, there would be people selling little crosses or baskets made from palms. Later it was blessed by the priest during the Mass. This is what I remember from that time.
As a youngster I knew that I had to go to church. Didn’t know why but I was encouraged by my grandmother to go to church every Sunday. I thought that after I made my first holy communion I didn’t have to go. Anway, I went, and I sat right under the place where the priest would present the homily. It seems at that time that everybody was going to hell, according to the priest, if we didn’t repent. I had no idea what he was talking about. Looking around as I was constantly distracted by some parishioners praying their rosary and not listening to the priest. Also, there were some people visiting the statues of Mary and other saints while the mass was going on. Others were lighting candles and praying for a sick child or others.
I assume that it was normal for people to do that. Later on, as I learned more about the church I came to find out that there are people who are believers and those who are striding the fence. They follow traditions but don’t know why. They go with the flow. For example, there is a part of the mass where the rite of the Eucharist is being presented by the priest. Catholics believe that Jesus is there in the communion host and the wine is his blood. This the holiest part of the Mass because the priest consecrates the bread and the wine as it was during the last supper. In essence we are there when Jesus presented the bread and wine as part of His body. This is lost in many Catholics because it is a mystery.
Today’s Catholics are either believer are just not wholly verse into the mass. Like most other dominations like the Baptist, Methodist or others, we follow a strict rule of liturgical readings and prayers of worship, praise and communion. We read from the old and New Testament and our priest reads the gospel which is writings taken from Jesus words. The difference is the word “Mass” instead of “Sunday Service” or going to “church”. Mass means we are celebrating the Eucharist, that of holy communion with the Lord. Hence, we are going to Mass.
We have many traditions, and we follow them regularly, especially those who believe. I firmly believe that the gift of faith is given to those who ask for it. It is through that that most Catholics celebrate Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, and Good Friday. That is, even though they don’t attend Mass on Sundays.
Church has always been a gathering of people for the purpose of worship. It is not a building. I still remember going to Mass outdoors in the middle of a battlefield. There are no non-believers there.