Jul 15, 2008
PRAISED BE JESUS CHRIST!
(Now and Forever)
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) recently released a survey of self-identified adult Catholics in the United States. The primary focus of this survey was adult Catholic participation in the sacramental life of the Church, as well as beliefs about the sacraments. There is an admitted margin of error, but on the whole, these surveys reflect reality.
A part of the survey that caught my eye was the section on Mass attendance. Catholics, of course, as a primary responsibility, are expected to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, week after week, convenient or inconvenient. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason, the faithful are obligated 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. 2181). That notwithstanding, the CARA survey suggests that only about three in 10 adult Catholics (31.4 percent) attend Mass in any given week and only 23 percent attend Mass every week (once a week or more often).
Several years back, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati wrote a series of articles titled Keeping the Lord’s Day. I pulled it off the Web at the time (I think it was back in 1998), thinking it could serve as a personal meditation. The summer disappearance of far too many children enrolled in our parish religious education programs, as well as the annual October pew census, have long underscored the quasi-optional approach to Mass some folks take. That should not be, of course. Fidelity to Sunday Mass is a serious obligation, so serious that the person who fails to be faithful to Mass should not receive holy Communion until they have faced up to their defect in the sacrament of reconciliation and resolved to get with it. Holy Communion is the ultimate sign of and participation in the unity we share with Christ and his Church. Failing to keep our basic responsibility to participate in Mass on a weekly basis separates a person from that unity.