Going to Holy Mass daily has long been important to me. It began when my parents retired. They began going daily. And I said to myself, why should I wait until I retire to do this? I have found going to daily Mass to be the most important part of my spiritual life. St. Augustine says, "If it be a daily bread, why do you take it once a year, as the Greeks have the custom in the east? Receive it daily that it may benefit you every day." (De Verb. Dom. xxviii) So I did, in the working world.
A newly received Catholic recently told me how in RCIA they mentioned the "Easter Duty." This past Easter, I attended a parish where it was definitely evident, even to the celebrating Priest, that the number of people attending was far in excess of the normal Sunday Mass. This attitude of fulfilling ones "Easter duty" is far from receiving ones "daily bread." Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Youngstown points out, "Easter duty seemed to have more relevance years ago when Catholics didnt receive Holy Communion as often, (or as casually) as they do today. The purpose was to maintain some minimal contact with the Church by receiving Holy Communion at least during Easter Season when the Church was celebrating its primary feast, the Resurrection of Christ. It was even a practice in some parishes that individuals making their Easter duty would present a kind of census card at the communion rail, a card that certified them as practicing Catholics for another year.
"Although sacramental practices in the Church have changed somewhat over the years, (for better or worse depending on your point of view) the fulfillment of Easter duty remains one of the primary precepts of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: The third precept (You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lords Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy." (#2042) [Friday 3/25/05]
Doing the minimum to remain a Catholic makes me think of the love of God, the first and greatest commandment and the analogy of marriage. What would ones spouse think of the question, "What is the minimum I need to do in order to continue in this marriage?" Doesnt that sound absurd? What does love have to do with minimums? It sounds more like, "What is the least I can do to avoid punishment?"
Jesus knows we need our "daily bread." I see receiving Jesus in Holy Communion in analogy to floating in a pool. As long as your lungs are full of oxygen, you remain afloat. But once you let the air out, you begin to sink. So it is with Jesus dwelling in you. You dont realize He is keeping you afloat until you begin to sink. Why wait until then?
Now it is true that one must be in the state of grace to receive Holy Communion. I know that I need all the help I can get to remain in this state. Jesus is the food of the strong and the remedy for the weak. So why wouldnt I receive Him daily?
In my travels, the award for daily Mass attendance goes to the capital, Bogotá, Colombia. There I saw a Franciscan parish with Masses all day long every day - with overflowing crowds! I dont know why. But I believe that is the way Jesus meant it to be.
An appropriate amount of time for a "Thanksgiving" after receiving Our Lord would go a long way to helping the Faithful appreciate the living Lord within them. "When the distribution of Communion is finished, as circumstances suggest, the priest and faithful spend some time praying privately. If desired, a psalm or other canticle of praise or a hymn may also be sung by the entire congregation." (GIRM, 88)
I need Our Lord daily. I want to see the same overflowing crowds here in the United States as in Colombia at daily Mass. Why settle for the least. "Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more." (Romans: 5,20) By the way, we can now receive Holy Communion twice a day
Brother John Raymond, co-founder of The Community of The Monks of Adoration, received his M.A. in theology from Holy Apostles Seminary.