January 31, 2014

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Why do you attend daily Mass? Because God speaks to me

Debra TomaselliI was at weekday Mass one morning when fellow parishioner and popular Catholic author Bert Ghezzi approached me.

“I’m writing a book about daily Mass,” Ghezzi said. “Would you mind sharing some thoughts?”

As I nodded, he handed me a piece of paper with questions.

Why do you worship at daily Mass? How does daily Mass contribute to your life in Christ? What has the Lord done for you through daily Mass?

This was an easy assignment. I thanked him for giving me seed for this column, so when you read his book later this year, you can say you heard it here first.

I attend daily Mass regularly to worship God, to thank God and to ask for divine guidance. But what initially drove me to weekday Mass was none of that … rather, it was fear.

I was a stay-at-home mom and had just dropped the kids off at our parish school when I decided to attend a weekday Mass. I was there anyway, so why not? Besides, I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for later that day and I was terrified.

Weeks earlier, routine lab work showed abnormalities. Suddenly, I was thrown into a field of white coats and waiting rooms, medical tests and lab work, X-rays and scans. An oncologist was enlisted. That day, I had an appointment with him to hear the diagnosis.

Fear consumed me. What if this was cancer? What would happen? Would I die of the same disease that took Mom’s life?

Frightened, I entered the church and slipped into a back pew. Moments later, the Mass began.

Just being there was comforting.

During Communion, I mindlessly watched the people file into line when one particular person caught my attention.

Mary was a woman from our parish who also had kids in the school. I didn’t know her personally, but I knew about her. And her story was amazing.

Her story was especially poignant to me.

Mary, her dark hair appearing like short sticks poking from her head, fought brain cancer. It seemed our whole parish held its breath while she battled the powerful blows delivered by the medical monstrosity. Finally, it was determined that Mary had beaten the odds. In nothing short of a miracle, she was declared cancer-free.

When I spotted her, of all people, I snapped to attention, dropping the doubt and uncertainty connected to my impending doctor’s appointment.

“God,” I thought. “Are you trying to tell me that it won’t be good news, but it’ll be all right?”

I was diagnosed with cancer that day—non-Hodgkin lymphoma—the slow growing kind. Since certain factors were missing, the oncologists decided to monitor the progression, waiting to administer chemotherapy at just the right time.

Nearly 20 years later, we’re still waiting. I haven’t received treatment, and I’ve remained healthy. Apparently, the message delivered in the back of the church that day proved true. The diagnosis wasn’t good news, but it’s been all right.

Why do I worship at weekday Mass? God speaks to me there.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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