Welcome to Working to
Beat Hell - your source for tools to help you in the quest to beat
A bit about the name:
We live in a world of division. We see the
world as consisting of Us and Them. This occurs on many levels ranging
from politics (Republican - Democrat), to sports, and yes it has even
invaded our faith life (Catholic - Protestant, Liberal - Conservative).
These divisions often lead us to view the "Other" group as enemy. But
the Council of Trent reminds us that we only have one enemy, and that
is the devil or Satan. Thus, rather than working to beat the
Republicans or Democrats, the liberals or the conservatives, we should
all be united and Working to Beat Hell.
The Apostolic Penitentiary announced that from October 11, 2012 through November 24, 2013, Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester, NY may earn a Pleanary Indulgence by participating in the Year of Faith. Lean more about how you can obtain this idulgence.
More of Fr. Carpenter's videos can be found on the Working To Beat Hell YouTube Channel
Priority of Mass
Fr. Brian Carpenter
As the school year winds down and summer weather rolls in, the activities that fill the calendars of many Americans rev into full gear. Vacations, picnics and sports begin to fill the calendars of many people. As schedules fill up, it is not uncommon to see religious obligations, such as Mass attendance fall by the wayside. Indeed, it seems for many people the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath has been misinterpreted as an option rather than a divinely revealed command.
While there are legitimate reasons for skipping Mass, illness being but one example, it is more common to find that people miss Mass for illegitimate and even sinful reasons. Other obligations, such as family functions and sporting events, lead several people to miss Mass. These obligations, however, are not valid excuses for missing Mass. What makes the latter different from the former is a matter of freedom.
In the case of illness, a person does not freely choose to become ill, and therefore miss Mass. In the case of a golf tournament, however, a person freely chooses to participate in the tournament at the expense of missing Mass. In so doing, the person places a higher priority on playing in the golf tournament than they place on fulfilling their religious obligation. In such instances, the Catholic Church teaches that a grave sin has been committed, as the person freely chose some other activity over worship of God. Jesus spoke to this issue when he said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
The point that Christ is making is that He is to be the priority in the lives of His followers. As disciples of Christ, He must be our central priority. Our priorities are best understood in terms of our actions. Our actions manifest our priorities. A person who spends all his time at work, for example, can hardly be called a family man, even if he wishes to refer to himself by this title, for his actions prove otherwise. A person who claims to be concerned about her elderly mother, yet find herself too busy to call or visit, can hardly have her words taken seriously. So too a Christian who claims to be God-centered, but is often found prioritizing other things over living the Christian life.
For Catholics, the central focus of the Christian life is the Eucharist. At Mass, Catholics are given the opportunity to truly encounter Christ and enter into an intimate union with Him through the sacrament of the Eucharist. Given this understanding of the Eucharist, it is easy to see why skipping Mass simply is not an option for Catholics. Missing Mass (for an invalid reason) represents a conscious choice to forgo this intimate encounter with Christ. It is as if the person were saying, "I know I can enter into an intimate union with Christ, but instead I’d rather watch a soccer game."
Yet, so often people make this very claim, assuming that “God will understand.” The fallacy of this statement is easily understood when we substitute God and Mass for intimate human encounters. For example, we would not expect a close friend or relative to be pleased with our decision to skip her wedding so that we could play softball. How much less so should we expect God to be pleased with us when we rebuff His offer to enter into our very being by choosing instead to go golfing?
God commanded His people to keep holy the Sabbath. He did this not for His sake, but for the sake of his people. He always wills what it good for His people. The greatest good for Human beings is to be united with God. It is precisely this good that God offers in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. For this reason Catholics should choose the greatest possible good by prioritizing God over human activities; by choosing to attend Mass.
N.B. For Catholic who will be traveling throughout the United States, MassTimes.org provides a list of Catholic Masses throughout the country.
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Brian Carpenter is a priest of the
Diocese of Rochester, NY. Fr. Brian Carpenter. Rev. Brian Carpenter.