Ask your teens why they want to skip Mass; then LISTEN attentively. Their resistance is probably from the lack of a close, personal relationship with Christ. Here are two things that might spark an interest in opening themselves to the Person of Jesus.
1. Help your teen to know that skipping Mass is like saying this:
• Jesus, I realize what You did for me by dying on the Cross.
• By not going to Mass, what I am saying to You is I don’t care.
This will be a powerful opportunity for them to realize what their choice to miss Mass really means. The first idea originates from a true story. Some friends dared each other to go inside the Church and confess a made-up list of terrible sins to the priest in the confessional. One of them took up the challenge. The priest knew what he was up to … and gave him a simple penance: go to the altar, kneel before the image of Jesus crucified, and say ten times while looking at His face, “Jesus, I know you died for me. But I don’t give a damn.” After three times, the young person was so affected that he was unable to continue.
2. Guide your teen to realize that going to Mass allows God to speak personally to them. Pose this question: How can you not show up for Mass when you know God is going to speak to you? At every Mass, God will always give a word that is important in your life right now, for a decision you have to make, a question you have etc. It may come through one of the readings, a prayer, or a song. The word will be unmistakable. It is an exciting adventure to find out what God wants to say to you at Mass.
BY ANN LANKFORD Director of the Office for Catechesis and Evangelization