Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Elena Marie and I trundled off to Mass last weekend, and she was very pleased to find herself in the pew behind Ate, Tita Josie, Kuya Ramon and Kuya Kyle. We did what we always do at Mass: she implored for me to hold her (ostensibly to see the priest, which is a valid ostentation for a 5-year-old), and I denied her, and then she pouted, and then we moved on and paid attention to the Mass. Elena Marie flipped through the missal, looking for the responsorial psalm, then I helped her. Then she had to go potty (must remember to require the kids use the bathroom at home before going to Mass!), and then she complained she was tired. Mass-business as usual.

What was such a pleasure for us was to see Kuya Kyle there. See, I was called in to talk with him. About what, I didn't know until we started talking: he has renounced his belief in God. I was so flummoxed by this statement that I couldn't marshal a response (so much for my Christian apologetics). So, to see him at Mass, for any reason, was a cause to celebrate.

I have a question: does sending a child to Catholic school increase the likelihood that they renounce the Faith? In my experience, it seems like these two things are linked by causality.

When we went up for communion, Elena Marie observed that Kuya Kyle wasn't going, so she asked why. I told her to ask her kuya, but then she put on her shy face.

I'm currently also working on my agnostic friend, Mike. Now, if he went to Mass this last weekend, that'd be a "God 2-fer". I invited him to morning Mass this last weekend, but he said he wouldn't go because he had to go to Mass at 3 pm for a relative's death anniversary. Win!

"Yup," Mike said, "you can tell God you had absolutely everything to do with me going to Mass this weekend."
"Hm," I replied, "the word after 'absolutely' I was thinking of was quite different..."

Mike has a little girl on the way, and I believe him going to Mass will help his family, as it has helped mine. But, of course, nothing is ever that simple. Elena Marie believes in the Real Presence because her parents believe in the Real Presence. Isabel thinks about God and Heaven because her parents think about, and believe in, God and Heaven. If they saw me going to Mass, just to go to Mass, they would smell my phoniness a mile away. So, one could argue (erroneously) that going to Mass is a waste of time.

But, then, on the other hand ("there are 5 fingers"), the Real Presence is Real. One is closer to the Communion of Saint because one participates, along with the rest of the congregation of believers, in the sacrifice of the Mass. One is keeping the Sabbath holy, and therefore doing an absolute Good and avoiding mortal sin. On a purely secular level: the homily is edifying, and, after all, it's just an hour one is "wasting". To put Blaise Pascal's wager succinctly: "If I go to Mass, and there is no God, I've lost nothing. If I avoid Mass, and there is a God, I've lost everything."

Anyway, Mass was good: I received our Lord, and the deacon's homily was about the Lord disciplining those He loves (which related to the second reading for the Mass), which is always an à propos message, being an eternal one and all ...

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