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  • Father David M. Knight

Why should I go to Mass with a bunch of hypocrites?

Saturday of week 7 in Ordinary Time, May 26, 2018

We don’t identify Christians by judging how spiritual or sinful anyone is. “Being Catholic” doesn’t mean

being a good one. It means being visibly a member of the body of believers.

We both express and experience our identity by gathering physically with others at Mass, receiving Baptism and Confirmation, confessing our sins and receiving (or being refused) absolution in a human interaction with a priest who can speak in the name of the bishop for the whole community. “Being Catholic” means receiving, or conscientiously declaring oneself unable to receive, the Body of Christ in Communion, being officially recognized (or not) by the community as married or ordained, and finally, being accompanied through sickness and death by the whole community, symbolically present in the oil of Anointing.

Gathering together is the key. We don’t say those who have committed serious sins have “left the Church.” And we don’t leave them. The law or a bishop might declare some “excommunicated” to make a point, but that doesn’t say they are no longer Catholics. Only those who choose to stop gathering with the body of believers are “out.” We make no judgment about whether, in the secret of their souls, people are guilty. But they either gather together with us as one body or they don’t. “Being Catholic” is like being married: for better or worse, staying together is the key.

ACTION: Keep going to Mass.

PRAYER: “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”

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