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  A Christian Faith Magazine January 2003, Volume 8, Issue 6  
Keep Holy the Sabbath Day
Rev. Paul Check
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It is a sad reality-tragic, really-that many baptized Catholics find their way to Mass only for Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Easter, and perhaps baptisms, weddings and funerals. There are others who will "occasionally" miss Mass, with greater or lesser frequency, for various reasons. To make matters worse, some in either group will not hesitate to receive Holy Communion without first having made a sacramental confession. Perhaps what both groups do not see, among other things, is that they do violence to their own human nature by neglecting to worship God.

St Augustine
St. Augustine

"0 God, you have created us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you." Well-known words from the patron saint of the diocese of Bridgeport, St. Augustine. Only the possession of God can make the human heart perfectly happy. That man desires to be happy and that he has an infinite appetite for happiness are uncontroversial assertions (I think!). Even those who deny the existence of God or those who deny man's need to regularly and faithfully worship Him nevertheless wish to be happy, and by desiring happiness they are desiring God-even if they do not realize it. As O.K. Chesterton said, the man who goes into a brothel is looking for God (albeit in the wrong place...).

An infinite desire for happiness can only be answered by an infinite source of happiness. As Msgr. Ronald Knox said, every human heart has a "God-shaped hole" in it. Over and above a study of human appetites, we have God's word that we are destined for perfect happiness and eternal life, defined by the God-Man Himself as "to know the only true God, and the one whom [He] sent, Jesus Christ." (In 17:3) So common sense, at a minimum, would suggest that we use every means to attain those goals.

Empty Seat

Can a person who neglects his religion be a good neighbor, a loyal citizen, a devoted spouse and parent? Perhaps, although he makes it significantly harder for himself by avoiding the sacraments. But even if he sincerely practices the golden rule, he nevertheless fails in his most basic human duty; to give praise and thanks to his Creator. "What do you have that you did not receive"? asks St. Paul (I Cor 4 :7), beginning with life itself. If I do not worship God in the way that He has determined, then I make myself a disloyal and ungrateful creature and I act in a way contrary to my human nature, to my desire for happiness and to the purpose for which I was created.

The average person will fail in his duties to others if he falls in his duty toward God. And the first person he will shortchange is himself. "I have come to call sinners," Jesus said, thus clearing up a lot of confusion about why He is calling you and why He is calling me. If I am sure that I am among Our Lord's audience now, then let me take the right steps to be among His company in eternity.

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