Hi, I need help!!! My nine year old son is going to Disney World with three other people for eight days. My son is Catholic, the others aren’t. My husband says he has to attend Mass while on vacation, I don’t think it’s fair to the others, what do I do? I don’t want my son to miss this opportunity, please help!!!
Let’s look at what we have here. You send your nine-year-old son with non-Catholics to Disney World for eight days. I assume that the eight days include transportation to and from. It sounds to me like a lot of days—even for Disney World! But for all that time of vacation, you don’t think it would be fair for non-Catholics to see that your son attends Mass on Sunday. What would not be fair? Would it be a disservice for them to see that for your family there is something about the Mass that out-ranks even Disney World? Would it be a disservice to them to perhaps tweak their curiosity as to why the Mass is so important?
On the other hand, if you allow your son to skip Mass simply because you don’t want to be unfair to your non-Catholic friends, what message are you conveying to him? Are you not indirectly telling him that the Mass isn’t what we say it is? While we’re on the subject, what IS so special about Mass? Actually, what we are asking here is what is so special about Good Friday. What IS so special about Good Friday? To those who don’t know—like your friends perhaps, it doesn’t seem like much. But for those of us who know, Good Friday is the center of human history and the ultimate revelation of God’s love for us. Now here we see what is unfair. It was not fair that Jesus suffered so much for sins He had not committed. But He willingly endured the suffering so that we would be forgiven and enjoy eternity with Him. At Mass we are present at the cross. That reality is brought to us through the centuries into our life in such a real and tangible way! There is nothing that happens on the face of the earth that can even come close the glory and magnificence of His goodness and love for us as expressed at Mass—not even Disney World! This is why those who know this and deliberately choose to turn their backs on Him and the celebration of such a gift by missing Sunday Mass, commit a mortal sin. If you allow your son to skip Sunday Mass, you are telling him that this is ok. You are also committing a mortal sin yourself. Such would be a teaching moment from hell.
I know this has gotten very heavy. But it really IS very heavy. I also know that because of the faith that your and your husband have, you will do the right thing.
Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.