Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

21 November 2011

Breakfast With Santa; Dinner With Jesus

Our parish is blessed to be part of a regional school--a fine community of persons who strive to grow in the love of God, others, and self.  The proper estimation of all three a better world makes!

The school is on our parish property, and most of its students and their families are registered in our parish.  In fact, I often find in conversation that people associate the abbreviation "HGA" with the school more readily than with Holy Guardian Angels Parish.  We have "school families" who send their children to our school without strongly participating in the activities in our parish, especially The-Lord's-Day Mass.  Of course there are families who belong to and attend another parish, even another ecclesial communion (denomination) or a non-Christian religion or none at all.  They are most welcome and their participation in the life of the school is of inestimable value, and we pray that they, in turn, are enriched by the Gospel as we strive to live it at "HGA."

Here I am thinking of the registered Catholic families who fulfill their responsibilities for school functions (whether or not these functions intersect with parish life, as did the recent Breakfast With Santa, which took place on Sunday morning), yet who fail to connect with God and neighbor and self in the consummate manner--the manner prescribed by our Mother and Teacher, the Church: the Sacred Liturgy.  Granted, any exposure to the practices and principles of Divine Revelation is better than none, and our Catholic schools are privileged and pleased to offer our children that exposure; but what's the point if families can take or leave the "Church part" of being Catholics and Catholic-School Families?  If communal worship is missing, everything is missing!  This isn't the parish's rule or the school's suggestion: this is the Third Commandment.

"We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25).  What "day" is the inspired writer talking about?  Not the day when tuition is due!  Well, actually, it is--in the ancient sense of "tuition" as "guardianship or custody."  Talents buried in the sand or put in a strongbox earn nothing, regardless of the job market or how students in the public system, China or elsewhere are doing.

Furthermore, parishes would derive great benefit from the involvement of school families outside of school functions.  As their children get older and advance to upper grades or high school, it would be an appropriate time for parents to "graduate" to a deeper involvement in parish ministries, in spiritual and social endeavors (though they certainly don't have to wait that long).  I know many such families in our parish.  They are our backbone.  They have recognized that "contribution" is a diverse reality, and they wear it well, even though it may not be in style.

One Examination of Conscience (preparation guide for Confession) invites the presumptive penitent to ask: "As I seek to develop my academic, athletic, or professional skills, am I also deepening my understanding and appreciation of God and my Catholic faith?"  Every Catholic, including the current writer, stands to ask this question often and with brutal honesty.  One of our local gyms calls itself a "Judgment-Free Zone."  That's quite fine, as the lack of condemnation for not being an Adonis does tend to help the majority of us improve our physical fitness incrementally.  But we proclaim that the Day of the Lord is by no means a Judgment-Free Zone, and our incremental efforts to improve our spiritual fitness will yield noticeable results in as little time as it takes to make one decision.

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