Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 29, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth. A father who loves his children will tell them the truth, so they can always know it and do what is right and pleasing to God. With that in mind, I have a couple of things I need to remind you of. As always, when I speak of “mortal sin” below, I do so to teach and inform you, not to scold and harass you. There is no angry chastisement here, only a loving paternal reminder.

Sunday Mass Obligation. It always surprised me how many Catholics don’t know that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday or on any other Holy Day of Obligation.

As the Catechism reminds us: “The [first] precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: ‘On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass’…” [2042]. This obligation may be fulfilled “on the evening of the preceding day,” i.e. at the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening. Otherwise, there are no other specific exceptions.
Even so, the Church acknowledges certain general exceptions from any obligations created by merely Church law, i.e., when: 1) you are truly unable to do what is obliged, or 2) the obligation conflicts with another equally important obligation. So, for example, if you’re sick you may stay home from Mass, either because you’re not able to go or because you have a serious obligation 1) to take care of your health, and 2) not get everyone at church sick. A similar exception applies in the case of inclement weather, when you are not able to go out because of ice or heavy rain or snow (this especially applies to some of our elderly). Another case would be those who are required by employers to work on Sunday, and those who do critical work for the common good, i.e., policemen, nurses, etc. Still another case is that of a mother or father having to stay home to take care of a sick child.
Some ask whether they are excused from Sunday (or Holy Day) Mass when they are on vacation or otherwise travelling. The answer is “no,” unless one of the exceptions above specifically applies. The Church recognizes and, to some extent, encourages the importance of recreation in the form of vacation. So that if the circumstances of your vacation cause you to be unable to attend Mass, you are excused. So, for example, you are free to choose to go on a cruise, or travel to a non-Christian country, even though there may be no Mass available. Moreover, if you are camping out in some place hours away from a Mass, or if you’re on a guided tour that requires you to be with the group on Sunday, you are excused as unable to go to Mass. Also, if you are travelling in such a way that it is not possible to attend Mass, you are excused: let’s say you are flying on a Sunday, leaving at 5am and arriving at 7pm.
Most (but not all) orthodox priest-confessors and theologians believe that this would apply to all-day car trips on a Sunday, since it is so difficult to coordinate Mass times in strange cities along the way. Moreover, car trips provide unique challenges to families with little children (parents have special obligations here), that might make it extra difficult. Note though, with the availability of internet and smart phones this is less difficult today than in the past.
Even so, the obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Mass is a grave one, never to be excused lightly. One should not seek out, invent or make excuses for missing Mass. The reason for the exception must be genuine. For example, if a single mom lives with her healthy father who could take care of her sick child, or a worker could easily get off from work by simply asking the boss for Sundays off, then there is no excuse not to go to Mass. Or if you’re on vacation in a non-Catholic country, but there’s a Catholic church just 15 minutes away, there is no excuse. Or if you drank too much the night before, that maybe a reason you are physically unable go to Mass, but it is not an excuse from your obligation since you freely chose the consequences of your actions the night before.
And remember: you can also go to Saturday evening Vigil Mass. And if you think you might run into difficulty attending Mass at any time, especially on vacation, you can ask for dispensation: both I and Fr. Smith (if you are our parishioner) can, for a just reason, dispense you from your Mass obligation, commuting it to some other pious spiritual act (e.g., watching Mass on TV, saying the Rosary, reading the Scriptures).
Enjoy your travels and vacations this summer. But go to Mass. And if you miss Mass without a serious excuse, make sure you go to Confession before you return to Holy Communion.

Baptizing Babies ASAP! There is a growing tendency of parents to postpone the baptism of their babies for months after birth. This is a huge risk—and normally a mortal sin.
Baptism is not merely a nice symbolic rite of passage granting membership in the Catholic Church. Rather it is a necessary sacrament, that washes away original sin and gives a share in the Eternal Life of God to the baptized. The grace of Baptism is necessary for salvation, as Christ taught: “no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit”—John 3:5). And while the Church teaches that God sometimes gives the grace of Baptism in extraordinary ways, e.g., martyrdom, the Church has always maintained that it does not know if anything like that applies to babies who die without baptism. So, the Church continues to teach that we should also never presume on God’s mercy by freely choosing to ignore the gifts he gives us—i.e., the gift of infant baptism!
Because of this, and with loving concern for the eternal souls of babies, the Church requires [Can. 867 §1]: “Parents are obliged to see that their infants are baptized within the first few weeks” after birth.
Parents, I love you, and I know you love your babies. So please don’t presume on God’s mercy and risk their immortal life, their salvation.

Reception for Sister Theresa Francesca Tolpa, S.V. St. Raymond’s former parishioner (head of our Respect Life Committee) and daughter of long-time current parishioners, Debbie and Ted Tolpa, Sr. Theresa Francesca Tolpa will be making her First Profession of Vows with the Sisters of Life on August 3rd at the Sisters’ Motherhouse in New York. Sister’s family will be hosting a reception for her in our Parish Hall on Sunday, August 6th after the 12:15pm Mass. All parishioners are invited to attend this happy celebration! (And bring your daughters and sons!)

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles