YOUR QUESTIONS

Sr. Louise Zdunich

March 19, 2012

QuestionI was taught that it was a mortal sin to miss Mass, without a very good reason, on Sundays, as well as on holy days of obligation.

Is this not taught in our Catholic schools?

Our parish has six schools but our Masses are practically empty of school age children. Usually, there are no altar servers. Are they not taught in school to want to actively participate, beginning with becoming altar servers?

If we neglect teaching our young people, is the seminary a beautiful place to train priests from other lands, while we neglect our own garden?

 


AnswerYes, the Church imposes an obligation of Sunday Mass. Wouldn't it be wonderful if instead, we considered it the greatest privilege. Catholics in many countries do so today since they are willing to risk their lives each time they go to church.

Yes, the Church imposes an obligation of Sunday Mass. Wouldn't it be wonderful if instead, we considered it the greatest privilege. Catholics in many countries do so today since they are willing to risk their lives each time they go to church.

Only two holy days of obligation exist in Canada: Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. The priests trained here are usually new Canadians who will serve across Western Canada.

The lack of children and young adults in our churches weighs heavily on many faithful Catholics. Although the absence of children may be the most noticeable, according to U.S. studies, the exodus of Catholics is astonishingly high.

Whenever I hear someone talking about once being Catholic, they invariably mention a rigid church with the image of a severe God. Evangelical churches seem to have droves of young people going to Sunday services and many other activities.

Why? I remember a very faithful Catholic student who went to Mass every Sunday morning and to an evangelical service every Sunday night because the latter fed her.

Some talk about the lack of feeling welcome. One of the most faithful and knowledgeable Catholic students was an inspiration to our prayer group.

Later, he told me he was going to another church because, he said, "Nobody even sees me at a Catholic Church. But at this church, everyone welcomes me."

Faith is a gift from God but it must be fostered beginning in the home. However, some parents are barely able to cope with taking care of the everyday needs of home in today's complex society. What are we, as a Church community, doing to help parents of young children?

Many parents, through no fault of their own, have little knowledge of the faith. We are educating churchgoers but what about the others?

MEETINGS WITH PARENTS

When I worked in a large U.S. city, we met with parents in their own milieu to help them foster learning in their children because we knew they would not venture to take in something at the university. This might be a good example for us to follow as a Church and/or school community.

As for altar servers, all Church people, including parents, need to encourage children. The school can, but it's not the school that sees that they're there. Some churches have five or six servers while others have none. Maybe we need to find out why there is such a difference.

The practice of the faith can be taught in schools, but there must be support on other fronts.

True, sometimes the God-given faith is nourished and brought to fruition by school teaching so that some will request, on their own, to go to church and/or receive the sacraments. But, ultimately, it is the parents who bring the children to Mass. Do we make them feel welcome when they come?

STRIKING EXAMPLE

One example I witnessed: A young priest pleasantly greeted the crowds who came to Christmas Eve Mass and told them he was looking forward to seeing them the following Sundays. Another told a full church that he didn't expect to see many of them until next Christmas. It would be interesting to gauge the results.

Churches, parents and schools have to work together to strengthen the faith in our Catholic young people, especially in a society which has become negligent and even hostile to Christianity.

None of these can hope to accomplish the task in isolation. Never more true is the saying "It takes the whole village (the whole Catholic community) to raise a child."

Do we pray for our youth and for ourselves that we can inspire them by our example and our teaching? Have you heard such an intention lately in the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass? Yet, with Paul, we believe that we can do all things in God who strengthens us (Philippians 4.13).

(Other questions? Email: zdunich@telus.net)