Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mandating Mass Attendance in Religious Education Programs

Oh my! Recently, we have learned of two parish programs in our diocese that are "mandating" Mass attendance for parents and children. One parish is requiring attendance on Sunday morning - with an hour and a half religious education class to follow. (The question arises whether Saturday Mass is not allowed?) The other parish is going so far as to require not only weekly Mass attendance, but weekly confession! Area parishes around at least one of these programs are reporting a huge influx of inquiries from families from that parish, as they attempt to flee to programs with more reasonable requirements.

With the trend in some few parishes to strong-arm families into attending Mass (we have seen it before with Confirmation youth being mandated to attend and to show proof of attendance) one might well ask if this is an effective tactic. Certainly, Mass attendance is part of who we are as Catholics. It is a duty to attend Mass - but it should be a joyful choice to fulfill this duty, not an obligation with negative consequences in this life rather than the next! Would it not be more effective to institute good adult formation, so that parents understand the Mass better, and are additionally provided with opportunities for personal conversion that can lead them back to a willing regular celebration of the Eucharist? Should we not evangelize about the value of the Eucharist in an inviting way, rather than punching a card at the door of the church?

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I think I could not have said it better - thank you!