These children have a sense of obligation and fear of the Lord because their parents and their priest have thought them to have it by their word and example. The parents instilled a sense of obligation in their children by making sure they understand the obligation to attend Mass. Their heads are bowed thanking God for their good parents and wonderful priest!
Yesterday I was speaking with our retired pastor, Msgr. John Cuddy about the decline in Mass attendance over the past 40 years. He is 82 years old and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. He contrasted what the Church was like in his growing up years and how it has changed today. For example, his home parish church could seat about 1000 people. Almost everyone in the parish attended Mass every Sunday. His parish had to have about seven Masses on Sunday spaced about a half hour apart to accommodate everyone and the Church was filled to capacity at each Mass! He mentioned that people attended Mass out of respect for God, a strong sense of obligation and the fear of hell it they did not "hear" Mass on Sunday which to do so willfully is a mortal sin.
We contrasted his childhood experience (which to a certain extent is also mine, but on a smaller scale) with the mentality today. In Macon, Georgia we believe there are about 60 to 70 percent of baptized Catholics who do not attend Mass on Sunday. They do not know how to respect God. They have no sense of obligation toward Him or His Church and they have no fear of hell sense they have no understanding of mortal sin and how through our conscious choices we separate ourselves from God and Church. Seeing is believing and if we don't see people at Church, they've cut themselves off, haven't they?
Many people today want a "feel good" religion and relationship with God. In many ways they live in a fantasy-made up world of the God they create in their own mind, like a make-believe friend in childhood. This "god" is a false God with no basis in Scripture or Church teaching. This concept of thinking about God has no sense of obligation to Him or His Church.
You know what, sometimes on Sunday morning, I don't want to get up and go celebrate Mass. But out of a sense of obligation to those who have come to the Church to attend Mass, I do get up. Could you imagine what they would think of me, if I stayed in the rectory right next door and could care less about the full church right outside my window? I have an obligation to be there for them. How much more for God?
We need to recover a strong sense of obligation in our lives in general and to God, Church and our fellow Catholics in particular. We need to recover a sense of "the fear of the Lord" and what mortal sin is and can do to us.