Beside the Holm Oak Tree

What are your priorities?

In one diocese, the Bishop has recently restored the order of the sacraments to what they were for centuries with First Communion and Confirmation being received at the same time. It has been moved to third grade and one reason for that is so the gifts of the Holy Spirit that young people need more than ever will be at an earlier age so children can be empowered by God’s grace to navigate the world and the many temptations they face. If that wasn’t challenging enough for people, he is asking for the young people to come to the Cathedral of the diocese to receive the sacraments. It is a great way to demonstrate the universality of the Catholic Church. We aren’t just the local church of a local pastor. We belong to the Roman Catholic Church which is spread throughout the world.

The way a few people reacted, you would have thought you were asking them to travel for days on horseback, without food or water and incur great expense to do so. We travel in our air conditioned/heated cars over smooth roads with music or movies at our fingertips. Somehow, this was a hardship. Never mind, they would not be at their local parish. Terrible! Not sure why, but it was. Yet, many travel each weekend to basketball tournaments, dance recitals, wrestling meets, soccer matches, or gymnastics competitions. Most of these events involve the whole family giving up their weekend, hotel rooms. dining and gas mileage. No one would dare miss one of these events. They are important!

Is time taken during these weekends so mass attendance is included ? Maybe, maybe not.

Due to changing demographics and falling mass attendance, some dioceses have had to close churches or change mass times due to priests having more parishes to cover. Recently, an acquaintance was telling me how upset and angry everyone at their parish was because the mass time was being moved. One parish would only have an 11:00 am mass and the neighboring parish would only have a 9:15 am mass. No Saturday masses were available. They related that some of the people were just not going to go at all because mass was too late and it took up the middle of the day. They liked an earlier time so after mass was over they could have the whole day to do what they wanted.

Seriously? That is what mass is about? Getting it over with, so we can do what we what, presumably more important stuff. Don’t go to mass and risk your immortal soul going to hell because you don’t want to change your routine?

Mass attendance is not just some arbitrary rule to impose on the faithful. We owe our worship and gratitude to God as a matter of justice. God has provided all we have, everything in our lives, our family, friends, jobs, possessions and especially our lives. We would not have our next breath if not willed by God. We owe Him our worship, praise, and thanksgiving for our very existence. Thanks be to God for His mercy as we are sinners who deserve none of the many blessings and grace we freely receive.

Yet, one hour a week is too much. Too inconvenient. Too much time and effort. I’ve often thought about the teaching that God does not send people to hell. They freely choose it because they reject Christ. Are you choosing Christ now on earth in preparation for the time you will spend with Him in eternity or are you choosing earthly things instead? What are your priorities?

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