I need some help. I’ve been asked to be godmother to one of my yet-unborn-nieces. I’m very honored by this, as I love my s-i-l “Sue” and her husband “Bill” and their kids very much. My only quandary: Bill isn’t Catholic. He’s always been very supportive of Sue going to Mass, and getting the other babies baptized promptly. However, sometime in the last year or two they’ve all started attended a “bible church” near their house. At first I thought this was in addition to Sunday Mass, but I found out recently that they actually alternate Sundays-- Mass one Sunday, Bible Church the following.
So far all I’ve been able to explain to Sue (when she asked me, unexpectedly, on the phone) is that I’m very honored by the request, but that being a godmother is more than just an honor, it’s also a resposibility, and that I had some concerns about their current practice. She’s missing Mass every other week, and there will come a point in time when my niece will presumably also be missing Mass every other week. They live too far away for me to reasonably try to get her to Mass myself every other week.
I need to have a sitdown conversation with Bill and Sue both, I think, and try to help them understand the importance of Mass every week for a Catholic. I know it’s sad that Sue doesn’t already get that, but – there we are.
I’m anticipating the sticking point in the conversation will be the part that Sue CANNOT miss Mass deliberately or it is a mortal sin. Knowing Bill, I know that’s the part where he will get antsy. “Well, I don’t see that in the Bible…” You know. I will also need to diplomatically explain that attending Bible Church simply doesn’t fulfill Sue’s obligation.
I’m hoping that if I am eloquent (ha!) enough in my explanation of what the Mass truly is, and what an amazing privilege it is for us to be able to go, that the whole obligation/mortal sin thing won’t come up, but it may have to.
So far the closest analogy I’ve come up with is, “You make your kids eat your vegetables, right? Obviously you hope that in the long run they will make that decision themselves, right now you are still teaching them how to make good eating choices, and if you gave them free reign nothing green might ever pass their lips. So while you want them to do it freely, you may have to insist on it, for their own good.” But I could see that raising hairs on the back of both their necks-- they are both adults and won’t appreciate the idea that the Church knows best what they ought to do.