Saturday, July 16, 2011

Sunday Obligation, Kids, and Consistency

Sunday is a pretty big deal for Catholics. Or, rather, it should be.

Kids, Parents, and the Sunday Obligation

Last Sunday, the priest at Our Lady of Angels, here in Sauk Centre, shared what he's learned from children in the parish. Particularly as they're approaching their first Sacrament of Reconciliation ("Confession," for short), some of these kids are quite worried: because they haven't been going to Church every Sunday.

I'm not going to rant about how 'unfair' it is that
  1. The Church has rules
  2. Things I don't like exist
    • Whether I want them to or not
  3. The Church expects children to learn
That sort of attitude would be silly. Take #2, for example. It doesn't matter whether or not I like getting regular dental checkups. I go, anyway: and sometimes catch problems while they're still minor.

I've posted about the Sunday obligation before:What's important, though, is what the Church has to say about Mass, Sunday, and acting like God matters.

There's quite a bit in the Catechism about the Sabbath and Sunday - which aren't the same day. My Lord rose from the dead on the day after the Sabbath.1 (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2168-2188)

There's also an explanation of the Sunday obligation - the rule that says that Catholics should gather and celebrate Mass once a week, on Sunday. (Catechism, 2180-2183) Here in America, an early-evening Mass on Saturday counts as meeting the Sunday obligation. And that's another topic.

It's Not About Rules

The Catholic Church has a reputation for having lots of rules. There's something to that: but the Church isn't 'about' rules. It's about my Lord, and the worship that is His due. The way I see it, the rules are what happened as successors of Peter dealt with human frailty and folly over the last two millennia.

Back to the Sunday obligation, parents, children, and a parish in the early part of the 21st century.

These children know about the Sunday obligation. Their parents sent them to classes where they learned that it's important to come to Mass each week. Unhappily, their parents haven't been taking them to Mass.

The Kids are Okay

These children are okay.

They're thinking, which is good; they know what the Church teaches, which is good; and they understand personal responsibility, which is good. Their knowledge and understanding isn't the same as what they may have decades from now, if they keep learning about their faith: but they understand the basics.

Father Statz, the parish priest, doesn't seem to like having to deal with this sort of issue: and I can't blame him for that. The kids know they're supposed to go to Mass on Sunday. Their parents won't take them. They can't disobey their parents; they can't determine family policy; Father Statz doesn't have the authority to change Church policy; and he can't tell the kids that the Sunday obligation doesn't matter.

So he reassures the children that the fault isn't theirs, tells them that they mustn't disobey their parents - - - and a parish priest shouldn't have to be in this sort of position. In my opinion, of course.

A Little Consistency?

I don't have to imagine what it's like to be someone who isn't Catholic. I can remember the experience. I was raised in a mainstream Protestant church, and converted to Catholicism as an adult.

I can, sort of, imagine what it would be like to be someone who doesn't want to be Catholic.

But someone who claims to be Catholic, even sends the kids to 'Catholic class:' and doesn't act as if the Church matters?! To me, that makes about as much sense as someone claiming to be a golfer, sending the kids to golf lessons: and never going to the golf course.

Kids Notice

Maybe the children of that hypothetical ersatz golfer would grow up to be avid golfers. I wouldn't count on it, though.

I think kids notice their parents. A lot. That's hardly an original thought - but it's important. If mom and dad say that something - like golf, or God, or gardening - is important, the kids will hear the words. They'll also see what mom and dad do.

If their parents' actions don't match the worlds: Like I said, I think kids notice.

Related posts:
1 Sunday is the 'eighth day of the week,' sort of. More to the point, it's the day of the week on which Jesus stopped being dead. (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1)


Brigid said...

Where's the other apostrophe? "Sunday is the 'eighth day of the week, sort of."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Ruth Ann said...

To put this comment in context, I am Catholic, and have been all along. Some call that "cradle" Catholic. Maybe I'm being too literal, but my parents never used a cradle. However, I was baptized at 3 weeks of age.

My father was seminary trained. He attended both minor and major seminaries, so he knew his Catholic faith. He also practiced his faith. He prayed with us, accompanied us to Sunday Mass, and monthly confession. He saw to it that we had our formal religious instructions, first via catechism lessons twice weekly, then by enrolling us in Catholic schools. In my case that was 5th grade through high school, followed by Catholic University.

My mother, who was raised Catholic, became a non-practicing Catholic. I don't know why for sure.

When I was ten my parents divorced after several years of a rocky marriage situation. Mother was the custodial parent. Dad had visitation weekly and was faithful to that.

By age 10 I knew the basics rather well. As the oldest, I took it upon myself to see to it that my siblings and I fulfilled our Sunday Mass obligation. Mother never interfered. She didn't believe, but she was never hostile to religion. I didn't like that she didn't believe, but as I grew older, I realized that if she had gone to church while not believing, she would have been a hypocrite.

God's grace is always at work drawing us. People commonly resist God's grace, but He keeps inviting. The seed falls on all sorts of ground.

To this day my siblings and I are practicing Catholics. My mother's stance softened during her declining years. She had a Catholic funeral and burial in a Catholic cemetery. I hope we'll be together in heaven.

Brian Gill said...

Ruth Ann,

I'm glad to hear that you and your siblings are practicing Catholics. Also, it's good to have hope.

Thanks for sharing.

Brian Gill said...


Another typo. Fixed, and thanks!

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