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Ask the Register: if God is everywhere, why worship in churches?

Q. God is everywhere. God is in nature, and in our families and loved ones. I don’t see why we need to worship, get married, have funerals, etc, in churches. Why does the Catholic Church require this?

A. God is everywhere.  In fact, God is the creator of all things, and all that exists in this world exists because God is holding it in his mind, speaking it into being, willing it into creation.  God is the author, creator, and sustainer of all things, and all places, and all people.

This means that we can find God in other people, especially our families and loved ones. Pope Francis, for example, reminds us to see the face of Christ in the poor. 

It also means that we can find God in nature.  David, for example, is moved to praise God: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place.”

It is good and beautiful that we are moved to encounter and praise God in the faces of the world, and in the beauty of creation. But Christian worship—especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—is something different.  The Mass is the experience of Calvary itself— in the Mass, we are taken to the moment in which Christ offered his life for us, and given to experience that moment in the gift of the Holy Eucharist. In the Mass, we are transported, as it were, to the sacrifice at Calvary, and to the eternal feast of heaven itself. 

The Mass is more than experiencing God in other places— because the Mass transports us into the incredible inner life of God. In this world, only the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can do that. We worship in churches because they are suitable places for Mass, which is more profound than any other human encounter with God. We marry in churches, and have other sacred moments there, because Christ is present in an extraordinary way— in the Mass, and in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is an encounter with God in a way that can not be paralleled by any other experience. And it should be a central part of the sacred moments of our lives.  When we celebrate the sacred moments of our lives, in the context of the Eucharist, within a Church, we speak to the importance of God’s presence in our lives, and we invite him to be the center of our family lives and our spiritual lives.

May each of us encounter Christ in our family lives, at sacred moments and ordinary moments, in other people, in the splendor of creation, and in the incredible gift of the Eucharist.

Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.

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