When I was a boy growing up in Marinette, it seemed that everyone went to church on Sunday. Not everyone was Catholic (although most of my neighbors were) but we all seemed to go to church. I never remember complaining about not wanting to go. I don’t think my mom would have put up with that. Times have changed. I know that some parents struggle to bring their kids to Sunday Mass. Some kids argue, whine and complain that they don’t want to go. Then some parents allow their children (and themselves) to miss Mass. I’m thinking that if you lose the fight for God, what else are you going to lose? Parents let their kids miss Mass for sports, shopping or just to sleep in. One expression I use is, “Whatever keeps us from God becomes our god.” Parents today need the Gift of Fortitude—the strength from God that can help them take their children to Mass. Why? That is what God asks us to do.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1808) defines the Gift of Fortitude as “The moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life.”
I’ve been teaching Bible studies in my parishes for years. It’s been a real blessing for me. It’s not uncommon to come upon passages I know I’ve read hundreds of times and something pops out with a whole new meaning—just as if God spoke to me. Last fall, while leading a Scripture study on the Book of Exodus (the second book of the Bible after Genesis), in Chapter 5 Verse 2, God tells Moses, “Let my people go so that they may celebrate a feast (liturgy) for me in the desert.” It hit me like a ton of bricks—from the very beginning God was asking us to worship Him. God does want us to pray and God wants us to be good Christians, but that flows from worship.
I am presently leading a study of the Book of Revelation (the last book of the Bible). In Chapter 1, Verse 3, we read “Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who hear this prophetic message.” Where is the word of God read aloud and people hear it? At worship. God blesses not only the one who “reads” but also those who “hear” in the assembly. God asks us to worship in the last book of the Bible. So, from the beginning to the end of Scripture, God demands that if we want to be in a relationship with Him, we must worship. Yes, God does ask us to do other things (like pray and be good Christians), but He begins and ends everything in between with worship.
We, as Catholics, worship Jesus at Mass. We need to get the word out that God demands us to worship. There might be a million reasons to miss Mass, but there is one main reason to go—God demands it. So, to parents (and to everyone), pray to God for the Gift of Fortitude, “to ensure firmness in difficulties and constancy in pursuit of the good”; to give you the strength to fight anything that keeps you away from Mass. Why? God demands it.
Have a great and blessed day—and see you at Mass this Sunday.
Father James Trempe
Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Knowlton and St. John the Baptist Parish in Peplin