The other day I was talking to someone who rarely goes to church except for feasts such as Christmas and Easter, and then he only goes if it fits into his schedule. He mentioned how last Christmas, he did not go to mass because it conflicted with his family's dinner time. The topic came up because he asked me if I wanted to go to the gym this Thursday (the Ascension) after work. I told him that we have a service this Thursday (today), and that it was a big one, being the fortieth day after Easter. He was surprised that people would come to church during the week. "Don't people only go to church on Sundays?" he asked. Now I had the opportunity to tell him about the church calendar, and how there were many feasts which do not always fall on Sundays, and how at St. Mark's we work very hard to observe such special days. I also told him how people will actually come to mass and to prayer during the week.
He was a bit stunned that people would be so interested in church. He wondered why people would want to go to church during the week. To him it seemed like more requirements. I did my best to explain to him that for the people who come, it is not about HAVING to come, but that they actually WANT to come. Whether it is the gift of faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit, or they are yearning for God in their lives, if you have a service during the week, people will almost always show up. This is the reality - many people want to worship God, and they want to do it more than just on Sunday, and they will take advantage of any opportunity you give them to do so. They have been touched by the spirit of God, and they want to give thanks in return.
We are lucky at St. Mark's. We have quite a few people who want to worship our Lord as much as they can. Furthermore, they will adjust their lives in some really interesting ways so that they can attend worship, whether it is on Sunday or throughout the week. They would not dream about missing Christmas mass because of a family obligation, and they will be out in force tonight worshiping the ascending Christ. Such people might be the minority in our increasingly secular society, but nevertheless, God has a special place in his heart for such devotion, and tonight God will be smiling upon such disciples as they rejoice that "God has gone up with a shout!"
Father Paul Lillie+
Rector of St. Mark's