Summer is a great time for vacations. Kids are out of school, the weather is warmer, & it is a common expectation that families will take a vacation.
My family is no exception. We have several summer birthdays, so all of the siblings try to come to my parent’s house at least once over the summer. While we were all in the favorite gathering spot, the kitchen, one of my brothers (who is a priest) said he needed to get back to his parish. My mom, who loves having everyone “home,” tried to talk him into staying longer. My brother, just kept telling her he had a parish he needed to get back to. I, half-jokingly, said, “Oh, come on stay! Everyone knows Catholics take the summer off!”
The sad reality, however, is that a lot of Catholics do take the summer off. Perhaps, like me, you have noticed far fewer people in the pews on Saturday and Sunday? Why is that?
It’s not like we haven’t all woken up on a Sunday morning and thought,”I really could sleep in,” or “wouldn’t it be nice to not have to get dressed up one day a week.” What about, “God won’t mind, I am sure He is fine with me spending time with my family,” “I just need a break…” “Father’s on vacation, he won’t notice if I am not there.” The list of reasons why we “don’t feel like going” is almost endless.
As a parent, I “feel” the same way sometimes about preparing meals for my kids, or helping them to get ready in the morning, or making sure they brush their teeth at night. I just don’t “feel” like it.
There is nothing wrong with feelings. However, Mass attendance, like parenting is not always about “feelings.” It is about love, and true love entails more than just feeling. It is acting with both the mind and the heart, and sometimes the mind has to remind our heart what we are called to do out of and for Love.
Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”79 Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us (CCC 2614).
Jesus loves us – the Father loves us – their Holy Spirit loves us… we believe this by Faith; & Faith calls for a response- not just a response when we “feel” like it, but always. We can’t take a vacation from love. If we don’t see Mass as a love encounter, (when Jesus comes to us in a special way – to feed and nourish us – with Himself & in community- so that we can go forth in His love), then perhaps we need to try to better understand what Mass is… (CCC 1345…)
The Eucharist (the Mass) is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church. ( CCC 1407)
There is a great quote in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) – We cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times (2697). Mass is prayer – the greatest prayer we have, & it is needed at “specific times” – most especially Sundays (weekly). Therefore, I invite you to do 2 things:
1. Read/meditate on the section of the Catechism titled “The Battle of Prayer” (paragraphs 2725-2758).
2. Memorize this website address: http://www.masstimes.org/ – It is possible to find a Mass, even on vacation.
Go enjoy your vacation – I have enjoyed mine – but stay united with Him who loves us with so great a love.
As Cardinal Dolan recently reminded us: “The greatest prayer we have is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Is it an obligation? You bet! but Obligations are there because we need ‘em.”
How true– we need them for our spiritual journey & our families need them for their physical, emotional, and spiritual lives! Amen!