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  • Writer's pictureBrandon Harvey

Why you and the kids should go to Mass MORE during summer break...

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There are many cultural images and expectations associated with summer vacation: the pool, baseball, sleeping in, ghost in the graveyard or other evening games, fireworks, vacation plans, and in general more free time. To be honest, the experience of summer vacation is experienced mostly by students that are on break from school and for those that work in professions, like teachers, that get the summer off. For the rest of us, we still feel a bit drawn into the cultural spirit of summer vacation even if we are still working through the summer. Parents are currently making plans for their children’s summer and families are also making other plans for summer activities. The one activity that should set Catholic families apart is an increase in Mass attendance by going to Mass on weekdays.  

The first reason is because the Eucharist is central to our identity as Catholics, central to all we do as Catholics. This does not mean that it is simply an essential aspect of what we do within the four walls of the church building but of everything we do in our day and week, no exceptions. The Second Vatican Council taught that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the entire Christian life (Lumen Gentium, 11). Why? When we think of what sets Christians apart from all other religious faiths or philosophies of life, any Christian or anyone that knows Christians can give you the right answer: Jesus. Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian faith (cf. Jn 14:6, Deus Caritas Est, 1). What is the Eucharist? Well, the Eucharist is not a what but rather a who. The Eucharist is the unique and supreme presence of Jesus Christ, it is the gift of his very self. If Jesus is central to being Christian, and if the Eucharist is Jesus, then the Eucharist is central to being and living as a Christian inside the church building and out in the world.  

Consider some of these quotes from Catholics throughout the ages: 

  • “I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament”  -J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings 

  • In response to someone referring to the Eucharist as a beautiful symbol, Flannery O’Connor said, “Well if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” She went on to write, “That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.” 

  • “We must not separate our life from the Eucharist. The moment we do so, something shatters.” St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta 

  • “Not to go to Communion is like someone dying of thirst beside a spring.” St. John Vianney 

  • “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” -St. Maximillian Kolbe 

  • “A thousand years of enjoying human glory is not worth even an hour spent sweetly communing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” -St. Padre Pio 

Someone will likely say: “Well....I go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation as it is required of me. It is a grave/mortal sin to miss Mass then, but not optional weekdays throughout the year.” Yes, all these statements are true. To intentionally miss Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation is a mortal sin, a rejection of God’s life in us. The Church, as the bride of Christ, as the Body of Christ, sets this standard to ensure we will at least have a chance to spiritually survive. The question becomes, do you want to survive or do you want to thrive. There are all kinds of minimum needs we have as human beings—food, water, and shelter—but each of us desires more than the minimum because we desire to thrive. Should we not desire to thrive in holiness as well? Imagine if a husband or wife chose to do the minimum and never went above and beyond obligation into the realm of heroic acts of love. Would that marriage thrive?  

Saint Paul VI taught, “It is desirable to have the faithful in large numbers take an active part in the sacrifice of the Mass each and every day and receive the nourishment of Holy Communion with a pure and holy mind and offer fitting thanks to Christ the Lord for such a great gift” (Mysterium Fidei, 66).  

Since the typical weekday Mass is about thirty minutes, couldn’t we plan on taking our kids to Mass once or twice each week besides Sunday? What would that tell them about how important the Eucharist is to us if we have the time to go and go simply out of love? How would that transform our kids and our parishes? How would that change how they experience the pool or fireworks or backyard games throughout the summer? If the kids are off from school/work and at least one parent is off for some of the week or summer, then can we think of even one thing that is of greater importance to do with our weekdays during summer break (or Christmas break!)? Hopefully we can all intuit the answer to that final question, and hopefully our parishes will be a bit fuller this summer.

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