Trying to Find Answers to the Usual Questions
A couple years ago, I did an (anonymous) study at a Catholic day-school. I asked seventh graders a few questions. Those questions were:
1) How often do you go to Mass?
2) When was the last time you went to Holy Mass?
3) When was the last time you went to Sunday Mass?
4) How often do you go to Sunday Mass? [options: every Sunday, once a month, twice a year, twice a year or less, never]
Every child said that they went to Mass every week. On “Tuesday” (which was the day the kids went at school). 30% said they had gone to Mass in the last month. 70% said they go to Mass twice a year or less or never.
I did the same survey with the CCD program. And the results—save the part about going to Mass every week at school—were the same.
That probably would shock most day-school parents. It shocks every engaged couple that I’m preparing for marriage. Every time, the engaged couple says, “That’s odd. I thought that day school families would be going to Mass more than the CCD families. Seems like a waste of money otherwise.”
The natural question to ask here is: Why?
Why—not only why day-school and CCD families’ sacramental lives are nearly the same (despite one group spending thousands of dollars on the particular parish school), but also why some have the erroneous perception that day-school families are more faithful than CCD families.
A few months ago, I stopped asking why people aren’t going to Mass. After all, the answers to that question are usual and somewhat obvious: liturgical banality, secularization and frenetic pace of life, lack of examples of integrity of life and joy of faith, the killing of conscience, etc.
And I’ve learned that, sometimes, when we ask the same questions and get the same answers, maybe it is time to ask new questions.
I’ve also stopped asking questions about what I should do about it. Because, it’s not a matter of what I should do,
it’s a matter of what people think they should do about it. And, right now, 70% of day-school and CCD parents believe this is not something to do anything about.
So, like Lent, different questions should be asked before we embark on projects that we think will solve the problem. But they are questions that I do not ask myself, but I think we should ask the parents. I’ve answered them for myself already. It is now time for parents to answer them. Here they are:
Parents, do you know that you children cry in my confessional because you are not taking them to Mass?
Parents, do you know that your seventh-grade child has a killed conscience, the victim of indifference?
Parents, do you know that if you continue in the way you are going, you will not see your kids married in the Church, they will likely not have kids, and all of this time and money you are spending is really wasted?
And parents, isn’t that… sad?
Maybe the parents’ consciences were killed long ago too. Maybe an examination is in order—an examination with questions meant to clarify and purify.
Maybe then we can ask the next logical question, which is: What should we do about it?
Father Anthony Gerber is a Roman Catholic priest serving in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. This article originally appeared in his blog and is reprinted here with kind permission.