To the editor:
I recently opened the Rhode Island Catholic and read about Bishop Hendricken students participating in the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Flames of Hope: Celebration of Life” that was held on Sunday, October 2. I then turned the page and saw that students from Mount Saint Charles, and again Bishop Hendricken, participated in the CVS 5K held Sunday, September 18. Although I certainly commend them for their generosity and community spirit, I am nevertheless disappointed when these events happen on Sunday mornings. I realize there is the option of attending Mass on a Saturday or Sunday evening, and I hope they managed to do just that, but seeing the ever growing absence of children and young people at weekend Masses tells me that somehow that is not happening. Can’t these fundraisers, which are fun and popular, be held later or on another day? St. Paul urges Christians “to run the race so as to win,” but this is not the kind of race he was talking about.” (1 Cor. 9:24)
Nowadays there are so many other distractions (e.g. kids’ soccer, ballet, karate, etc.) on Sunday mornings that erode the sense of Sunday belonging to God not us. And I am afraid that these “charitable” events (that entail commercial activities as well) place young people and families in a sad dilemma: choosing between the two. Yet, how can we teach a child that Sunday is sacred and that one’s obligation before God is most important, but be willing to surrender to commercial or recreational activities, or shopping, in its place? Frankly, come Judgement Day, I would not want to be in the shoes of those adults who deliberately schedule these activities on Sunday mornings pre-empting God himself, rather than “letting the children come to me,” as Jesus stated. (Mt. 19:14) And elsewhere: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Mt. 18:6)
Why place obstacles in front of these children, as well as inner conflict? I am sure both parents and children feel torn when they have to choose between two very worthwhile activities — worship of God and assisting a charitable cause; however, for Catholics, (considering what the Mass represents) the former is vastly more important than the latter in light of the eternal consequences.
I hope we Catholics might rekindle our sense of consciousness regarding our duty before God to not only attend Sunday Mass, but to also do nothing that would impede others (especially children) from doing so. In the Holy Mass we are privileged to join in the greatest prayer and act of worship known to man, that Christ the Son of God himself gave us. We are truly in his Christ’s presence and receive his Most Holy Body and Most Sacred Blood in Holy Communion. We have been commanded: Keep holy the Lord’s Day; and “Do this in memory of me.” As Catholics in a world in danger of being drowned in the growing tide of secularism, may our voices and example help stem that tide — raising our own awareness and that of others about the sanctity of the Lord’s Day. I firmly believe what my own parents ingrained in us (and what they too lived out): When it comes to Sunday, nothing comes before attendance at Mass.