Archbishop Dolan urges Catholics to put Mass at center of their Sunday


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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Archbishop Timothy J. Dolan of New York urged Catholics to make Mass the center of their Sunday because the observance of the Lord's day is essential for the church, "the vibrancy of our faith" and the "clarity of our Catholic identity."

The archbishop used his first pastoral since being named to head the New York Archdiocese a year ago to call Catholics to "keep the Lord's day holy" and remind them that it is in receiving the Eucharist on Sunday that they sustain their faith.

"Anybody 50 or older can remember when faithful attendance at Sunday Mass was the norm for all Catholics," Archbishop Dolan said.

"To miss Sunday Eucharist, unless you were sick, was unheard of. To be a 'practicing Catholic' meant you were at Mass every Sunday.

Over 75 percent of Catholics went to Mass every Sunday.

"That should still be the case. Sadly, it is not. Now, the studies tell us, only one-third of us go weekly, perhaps even less in some areas of the archdiocese," he said.

"If you want your faith to wither up and die, quit going to Sunday Mass. As the body will die without food, the soul will expire without nourishment. That sustenance comes at the Sunday Eucharist," he added.

The archbishop released his pastoral on St. Patrick's Day, March 17. He said it was a good occasion "to look at how we are living the Catholic faith that has been handed on to us by so many generations -- for some, the faith can be traced all the way back to St. Patrick himself."