Saturday, October 23, 2010


I don't know about the parish you attend, but in my parish both with some of our school parents and parents of our CCD children, there is a failure to bring their children to Mass every Sunday. It is a sad malaise! I believe it to be a part of the causality we have been discussing in the previous posted blogs. We haven't handed on our Catholic principles and moral perspective as we should have. People have lost a sense of sin, altruism, and authentic love for God when they absent themselves from Sunday Mass and the other sacraments of the Church.

So, hot off the press, I copy to you the letter that I am writing for our school's November newsletter. You are seeing it before them! What do you think?

Dear Parents,

The proper Christian moral development of a child will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Psychologists tell us that the first stage of moral development is the law and order stage. Rules are to be followed and punishment for failure to follow the rules will occur. Most children until their teenage years are in this stage. Rules are made clear and just punishments for breaking rules must be clear also.

Later, as we mature, the next stages of moral development should lead us to internalize these rules, follow them altruistically out of love for God and neighbor. In other words, we are capable of doing good and avoiding evil not just from the point of view of the consequences of punishment that follow if we break the rules.

As we advance in our moral development, we never eliminate an earlier stage, but build upon it. Sometimes in difficult situations in moral choices we might have to revert to an earlier stage, doing the right thing based on rules and out of the fear of punishment.

For example, we teach our Catholic children that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday. We’ve taught that from time in eternity! We teach them that a mortal sin is a serious offense against God. To avoid punishment, we must repent of our sins, confess them to a priest, and receive penance and absolution and avoid the sin in the future. Failure to do this could result in eternal punishment if one dies unrepentant.

We teach our elementary school children that if their parents are not bringing them to Mass as they should, which is a very serious obligation every Sunday of the year as well as Holy Days of Obligation, that the mortal sin is not theirs, but their parents. We encourage them to beg their parents to take them to Mass every Sunday if this is not occurring in their Christian home.

So I ask you parents reading this. What stage are you in your moral development and Christian pilgrimage? Have you abandoned even the first stage for something bogus in terms of moral decision making or are you making progress in maturing in your moral decision making and teaching your children by word and example to progress as well?

The highest form of moral development in terms of Mass attendance and all other forms of Christianity is to do what needs to be done out of love for God rather than fear of damnation. But evidently, many people have a corrupt understanding of love, not only for God but for others. It is far from altruistic and other oriented. It is narcissistic. In these cases, one’s skewed understanding of love corrupts one’s moral decision making. It is intrinsically flawed. Therefore one is incapable of making moral decisions solely out of love for God and must resort to fear of hell in making the right decision.

The traditional “Act of Contrition” is very wise in acknowledging the corrupt motives of the confessing sinner:

O MY GOD, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation with your children. Hopefully you will do so out of love for God but if that doesn’t work for you, dreading the loss of heaven and the pains of hell is a great motivator as well.

God bless you.

Father Allan J. McDonald


Gene said...

I pray that every Catholic Church should have Priests like Fr. MacDonald! Wonderful letter!

Seeker said...

Spoken with true concern for the souls of the children as well as there parents. Once a sin is committed, it's easier to commit another. Good example is the best teacher, especially for a child. I hope and pray they heed your advice. Nicely done. I feel truly blessed to have you as a pastor.

Anonymous said...

I think you have gone over the edge. If, as you say, the education of post Vatican II Catholics has been lacking; some of your points here will be lost on them. Might not some be hearing this so strongly stated for the first time? Might not their reaction be: since when do we take all this so seriously? Jesus loves me this I know because my hippie teachers told me so!

Anonymous said...

I was thinking of this letter this morning as I rousted the family out for the 8am mass. I expected some grousing, but nary a word. I recall a previous parish had a 7:30 mass that was well attended. Good fellowship there, too. Good discipline, good foundations, good harvest.


Anonymous said...

Loved it! Keep it up.

SqueekerLamb said...

You've got guts.

Thanks for the moral development explanation...very enlightening; and it's helpful both for parents to think about when trying to form their children and for all adults to reflect upon within themselves too.

When I first read the Act of Contrition upon returning from a 25 year abscence, it struck me in the heart. Unfortunately, some of us thick-heads have to mess up really badly before we can see the light.

With REAL catachesis like this, perhaps more souls will be saved, fewer messed up marriages, fewer abortions, fewer calls for legalized euthanasia, more clarity, and more vocations.

I have great hopes for the next generation!

kiwiinamerica said...

The Sunday obligation.

What a cruel and horrific diktat!! Imagine even suggesting that being a Catholic might involve spending a whole hour in Church, once per week. A whole hour!!

Good grief! Has the Church not yet realized that the malls are open on Sunday and then there's the NFL, not to mention soccer practice for the kids??

Furthermore, your letter actually implies that hell not only exists but that it awaits Catholics who don't attend Mass. Now this is too much. Whoever heard of such nonsense?

Everyone goes to heaven..........don't they??

abd said...

Father, You are a one in a million kind of priest. Bravo! Oh to be blessed with a priest like you....