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Rules? I don't need no stinkin' rules!

I woke up on Sunday feeling quite grumpy;  no particular reason, just grumpy.  And I really didn't want to go to church either.

That's unusual for me.  I realize many people think church is a drag...a "why bother if I don't get anything out of it experience", but I like Mass.  It's the compass for my week - keeps me focused in the right direction.  But Sunday, I was just annoyed.

The hymns were annoying, the people were annoying - well, you get the idea.  I shoulda just stayed home, I thought.

So why didn't I?  What compelled me to go to an event that I didn't want to go to, that I didn't feel like participating in, and really, I "didn't get anything out of"?

I suppose you might say it was Catholic guilt.  It IS, gentle reader, a mortal sin (for my non-Catholic readers, that a biggie) to miss Mass on Sundays.  My mom always told us that the only reason we could miss Mass is if we were to sick to go to our dying mother's bedside, and when you think about it, you're never that sick.  In fact, the very first time I ever missed Mass in my life was when I was 14, had broken my arm severely, and was in the hospital.

So, I wasn't sick and had to go to Mass, was that it?  Otherwise, I'd just be a big ball of Catholic guilt, right?  No, that's not really it.  There is that rule, and I follow it, but there's a reason for the rule.

God enjoined His people with a few simple rules, and one of them was to keep the Sabbath holy.  Set it aside for rest and worship.  Clearly in our society we've lost our sense of both.  And I suppose the Jews weren't much better at it, at various points in their history, either.  And that's why God gave us the rule.

In His wisdom, He knows that we are going to wake up some Sundays just plain grumpy.  He knows that we're going to look around on Sunday afternoons and say,  "I've got to get these errands done.  I know it's Sunday, but...."  He knows that unless He gives us this rule we'd just go ahead and do those things:  avoid worship, work and just generally feed our own desires, ignoring our need to worship and rest.

I can't say that this Sunday's Mass was my best worship experience, but it was a worship experience.  Despite my feelings, I was still in the presence of Almighty God, I still received Christ in the Eucharist and I still heard God's Word.  I would have missed all that had I just stayed home and felt grumpy.  Following the rules doesn't have to be mindless, and it can actually be rewarding.

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