Dear Father John, can you help me understand and explain why Catholics go to Church so much more than Protestants (as with daily communicants)?
Here is the short answer to this question: Catholics go to Mass daily because of the Eucharist. Protestants and evangelicals, with very rare exceptions (e.g. some of our faithful Anglican friends), believe neither in the abiding, Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, nor in the sacrificial nature of the celebration of the Eucharist (the Mass). As a result, they have no reason to attend communal worship services every day.
The Mass Matters
But Catholics believe that the Mass itself is the highest form of worship, petition, and thanksgiving, because it was instituted by Jesus himself as the perpetual re-presentation of his own self-offering on Calvary, an avenue for believers from every corner of time and space to be present with him on Calvary. This is how we interpret the prophecy of Malachi (1:11): “From the rising of the sun to its setting, my name is great among the nations; Incense offerings are made to my name everywhere, and a pure offering.” Every day, through the Mass, we can unite ourselves to that offering, repairing for all the sins committed on a daily basis throughout the human family and opening new channels for God’s saving grace to flow into this fallen world. We also see Holy Communion as a sacrament, not only a symbol. This means that receiving Communion actually increases our union with God, allowing the divine life to nourish and transform our human life. Daily Communion, therefore, is one way God answers our prayer to “give us this day our daily bread.” We become stronger Christians by eating this true manna, this “true bread from heaven” every day, just as the ancient Israelites gathered and ate their miraculous manna every day as they journeyed towards the Promised Land (cf. John 6:32).
Learning from Our Protestant Brethren
On the other hand, as a former Protestant myself, I have to point out that our Protestant brothers and sisters show a deep and persevering devotion to a daily quiet time. Many Protestant Christians have a firm and healthy habit of spending time alone with God every single day, contemplating his Word and speaking with him in the silence of their hearts. Many Protestant churches also have a variety of mid-week Bible studies for small or large groups, as well as mini-worship services throughout the week for different subsets of their congregations. A vibrant Protestant community, therefore, includes plenty of devotional and fellowship activities, not only the Sunday gathering. I have long believed that if more Catholics adopted this laudable Protestant tradition of a daily God-time, they would benefit much more from the sacraments they receive, and reach greater levels of spiritual maturity. I am sure our readers will have their own stories to share in helping to answer your question, and I look forward to reading them!
Art for this post which asks the question, “Why do Catholics Attend Church More Often than Protestants?”: Partial Restoration of Christ with the Host, Paolo da San Leocadio, fourth quarter of 15th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons.