Monday, August 9, 2010

A "Good" Parish: A Parish Where the Parishioners Go to Mass

The first of the seven "Precepts of the Church" is this: "To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and to rest from servile works."  As a precept and, in fact, the first of the seven, this directive should certainly be prominent in the mission statement of every parish or, at least, in the mission itself.  A parish with many parishioners attending Sunday Mass and few parishioners attending parish committees is a better parish than one with the reverse pattern.  This is not to say that attending Sunday Mass and attending parish committees are mutually exclusive.  Nevertheless, I sometimes hear parishes described as "vibrant" and "active" and "alive," and yet only 25% of its parishioners attend Mass on Sunday. 

Tomorrow I will review the three principal reasons why many pastors and parishes today are reluctant to say, "You must attend Sunday Mass."


  1. If we keep telling people to come to Mass without aiding them into encountering Christ in a real and personal way then it will be hard to convince them of anything the Church teaches and asks of us. The Church today has been much better about being faithful to Her own doctrines (and don't get me wrong this is hugely important), but when are we going to teach people how to live in Christ Jesus as the new creations we have been made through our Baptism? If we aren't taught to walk in the spirit then we simply go around sharing our faith on a intellectual level without ever letting it hit the heart like it did with the great saints like St. Paul and St. Augustine. Just a though.

  2. The last few years I have been a member of a small parish where it is possible to recognize just about everybody. The thing I like most about it is that the Mass is celebrated in an extremely holy manner. That makes up for all the deficiencies in a tiny parish.

    But it amazes me how irregular is the attendance of most of the congregation. You would need to take that average Sunday attendance and multiply it by four to arrive at a figure of the total of those who consider that church to be their parish.

    And some are old; and some are young. But most seem to have gotten out of the habit of regular Sunday Mass attendance, most probably because nobody was telling them that was the requirement to be a good Catholic.

  3. My kids went to Mass every Sunday.....until College. I don't know what happened, but none of them go to Mass regularly, some of them not at all. They do not get married in the Church, they do not baptize their children. This all happened between the years 1967 and now. I grew up in the 40's and 50's, and I would not think of missing Mass. What changed.

  4. Thanks, "Anonymous." You have asked a very important question. My focus in this blog is forward-looking, that is, how do we strengthen Catholic life in our families and parishes and schools at this time. Nevertheless, we will need to look back at the past 50 years (and, in some cases, the past 100 or even 500 years), to offer a sufficient diagnosis and prescription. Stay tuned...