This story caught my eye last night:
Participants in Florida’s American Legion Auxiliary Girls
State--which describes itself as “a nonpartisan program that teaches
young women responsible citizenship and love for God and Country”--are
not permitted to attend Sunday Mass, according to an American Legion
As a result, one of the 300 Florida girls invited to participate in the program is declining to attend.
The American Legion Auxiliary sets aside one hour during the weeklong
program for a non-denominational worship service. When the mother of
Margeaux Graham, one of the invited participants, asked whether she
could drive her daughter to Mass, she was rebuffed by an American Legion
“The girls are not allowed to leave our program for any reason," said
Robin Briere, secretary-treasurer of the state’s American Legion
This girl made a tough choice and decided in favor of practicing her faith rightly instead of going with the flow.
A few things:
1. Had she chosen to participate in the Girls State program and Mass was not permitted, there would be no real "sin" there for her. She's a minor and although Sunday Mass is obligatory, she's not able to get to Mass. The obligation is not incumbent upon her. The Code of Canon Law explains that there are physical impossibilities:sickness, and absence of a priest to say Mass for them; moral
impossibilities, when it would be very difficult to attend Mass, say
because of the absolute necessity of fulfilling other grave duties; and
the practice of charity, when Mass is sacrificed to remain at the
bedside of the sick or give urgent assistance to someone in great need. (canons 1246-48, commentary from Fr. John Hardon).
2. In the USA "worship services" are seen as an acceptable conglomeration of prayer that all people, mostly Protestant Christians, can find welcome. This is a pet peeve of mine here in Oxford when sorority and fraternities are told to go to different "houses of worship" on select Sundays and Catholics just follow along missing Mass to go to the Baptist, Presbyterian or Methodist church. Mass is not "going to church" or "fellowshipping". It is a sacred rite centered around the Eucharist. No one else does this.
3. I hate events on Sunday for kids. Parents most likely ditch Mass for the event. Soccer. Baseball camp. Track and Field. Orientations. Shopping at Wal-Mart.
And finally, on this day in the year of our Lord 2012, I proclaim:
4. A DRE GOT IT RIGHT!
“Missing Mass is not an option," the director of religious education at
Graham’s parish said in a newspaper interview. “If you're Catholic,
you're obliged to gather with your fellow Catholics on Sundays to
celebrate Mass and it's not something that we can choose not to
participate in, if you're an active Catholic," Smart said. "Good for
Margeaux for not being afraid to stand up for her faith.
St. Mary of the Lakes Catholic Church in Eustis, Florida is her parish. That's the Diocese of Orlando.
Jackie Smart, DRE, I salute you!