Friday, March 7, 2014
Ha! My first reaction was to chuckle at this. (That's my first reaction to a lot of things, appropriately or not, I'm afraid.) But there's an irony -- or an unexpectedness -- in this meme, that catches you by surprise, isn't there? You can't help but smile -- and then the meaning dawns on you. Yeahhhh.... Hmmm...
There's something deeper here than you first think there is.
The children and I just started going through the Commandments one by one in My Catholic Faith, and have just gotten to the 3rd Commandment: Keep thou holy the Sabbath day. Since we've been learning about the specific laws of the Church guarding the sanctity of Holy Mass, this Pintrest pin caught our attention right away. And punctuated the necessity of the Church laws we're learning! Rules dictating proper behavior have got to be set down extremely clearly -- if one of the twelve Apostles who lived daily in Christ's presence could be so rude to Him... (which is the understatement of the century) how much easier for us to be forgetful of Who it is we're leaving when we check out of Mass early. We have to always remember Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We don't in any way want to imitate Judas!
I love it when I come across things that coincide exactly with what we've been studying about. They're like little gifts from heaven! In a nutshell, here's what we're learning about the third Commandment and how it's been pertinent to us:
1) The obligation of Mass is binding on all persons who have attained the use of reason: that is, including children seven years old. Those who find it impossible or very difficult, to hear Mass, are excused.
So that very clearly excuses the elderly or ill, who through weakness or just actual physical inability, cannot attend. We have family members who just cannot always make it on Sundays because of their health, and it's good for the children to understand how good and practical the Church is in making allowances for these things! Mothers of infants who have no way of trading off Masses in order to have the baby (and/or toddlers) cared for while they attend, would also be excused if the needs of the children make it impossible for her to attend. But, the children, being under the age of reason have no obligation to attend Mass at all. Dan and I "traded off Masses" for years so that we could attend without the little kids. But there were many years when we couldn't trade off and I spent pretty much every Mass out in the vestibule or the car with toddlers and infants. This was a valid reason for missing -- which is a wonderful thing to not have to worry about! (But if a person is unsure at all about it, they should always consult their pastor or Confessor!)
2) Not to hear Sunday Mass (without a valid reason), or to miss a notable part of Sunday Mass, is a mortal sin. To come a little late and not make up for it in another Mass, is a venial sin.
This is the one that gave us pause! Not so much the first part. We know that purposely missing Mass is a mortal sin that must be confessed ASAP. Black and white. What we somehow have missed (having read this very same chapter in our homeschooling many times over the years, even!) has been the part about making up for what we missed! How did we not know that? We are now instructed! That's very good incentive to make sure we get to Mass -- not just on time, but plenty early!
3) The precept is to hear an entire Mass from beginning to end: that is, from the Priest's entrance into the sanctuary until his departure into the sacristy. One is considered to have missed Mass if one is too late to be present during the Offertory (when the Priest uncovers the chalice), or leaves before Communion is finished. The principal parts -- that is the Offertory, the Consecration, and the Communion -- must be heard in one and the same Mass.
It's good to have this spelled out for us in black and white. Unless we have a very good reason, we've just plain and simple missed Mass if we arrive after the offertory or exit the chapel before Communion is finished. If we do either, we are required to assist at the next (or a later) Mass or go confess a mortal sin. This is clear cut and easy to understand.
Still, we teach our children that it's extremely rude to arrive late at all (we should be there early enough to prepare for Mass!) and very rude to leave the chapel before Father has completely finished the Holy Sacrifice and gone back to the sacristy. And then, it's only polite to God, the Creator of all things and the Source of all goodness, to stay for a moment or two to thank Him for the graces we've just been given (not to mention the fact that we're alive and well enough to be there!). Leaving before the completion of Mass is like being an honored guest invited to a grand dinner -- and leaving in the middle of it. Without even saying "thank-you!" Like Judas! Whose motive for leaving was most definitely the worst in the history of the Faith. But, bad habits are a slippery slope to a sloppy conscience, and discourtesy is a symptom of an insensitive conscience, at best. We're well-warned. Don't copy Judas in anything!