Attending Mass Weekly

04-23-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Charlie Goraieb

Dear Friends,

I begin with a word of gratitude and happiness over our Parish Picnic last Saturday. It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying themselves in a variety of activities (or none) and a very real sense of shared community among those present. For many, the highlight of the day was the Blessing of Chapel ground by Bishop Olmsted. There are so many who served in preparation of the Picnic and on the day itself. To all of you, I say “thank you.”

May 28th, the Feast of Pentecost will be my last day of service to OLMC. Officially I remain the Pastor until June 30th, but I plan to take the month of June for a retreat, visiting family and travel. Because of various circumstances I wasn’t able to take any vacation time last year, so I am hoping to do so before beginning my new assignment at St Anne’s.

Besides simply announcing my personal plans as I prepare to leave, I also want to let you know that I will be using this column to reflect upon some topics that some may consider controversial. I believe it is my duty to proclaim the truth to my flock--in and out of season. There are some crucial Catholic teachings which, sadly, many Catholics either ignore or categorically disagree with. My reflections may not change anyone’s mind, but at least I will know that I have faithfully discharged my duty.

My first topic is the necessity of attending Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation unless prevented by illness or circumstances beyond your control. For the older Catholics among us, this precept of the Church is well-known and faithfully practiced. But many younger Catholics have adopted the practice of making it to Mass often—but not weekly, depending on what their Sunday schedule may look like. I understand how busy the weekend can be with kid’s sporting events and outings and family activities, but our Sunday obligation must be seen as a non-negotiable commitment rooted in the 3rd Commandment, “Keep Holy the Lord’s Day.”

Paragraph 2181 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” 

No pastor delights in reminding his flock of their sins, but when so many seem to dispense themselves from their Sunday obligation for less than serious reasons, not to speak of it makes the pastor himself complicit. With Mass offered on both Saturday and Sunday evenings as well as throughout Sunday morning, no matter where you are or what your activities include, making Mass is always a possibility.

If you have young children, they will be watching closely how you handle the Sunday obligation. If you come only when “nothing else interferes” with Mass, don’t be surprised if your children strongly resist coming to Mass when they are teens. They will have learned that Mass is not an absolute and, as teens, will have a host of demands competing with Mass attendance.

If you do miss Mass for less than a serious reason, come to Confession before presenting yourself to receive Holy Communion. As Catholics, we never want to receive Holy Communion with grave sin on our souls. The most spiritually dangerous place for a Catholic to be is to conclude that a particular teaching of the Church doesn’t really mean what it says. It is presumptuous to exempt ourselves from that teaching. Doing so leaves us in a state of unrepented sin and sets us on the slippery slope of continuing to decide which other Church teachings don’t apply to us.

God’s blessing, Fr Charlie

Please pray for Fr. Jim Blantz, C.S.C., who Celebrated Mass numerous times for us last summer. Fr Blatz, who is 91 years old, is suffering from colon cancer and is being cared for by his Order in South Bend.