(Photo from Father Lawrence Lew, O.P. - God’s Excessive Love - Used With Permission)
" "In the first place it should be known that if a person is seeking God, his beloved is seeking him much more." — St. John of the Cross

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Price For Our Ingratitude

I went to my parish yesterday for morning Mass after having just returned from an extended family visit over Easter. When I arrived, I discovered there would be no weekday Masses as our pastor was on retreat. Good for Father; unfortunate for me. Had I known in advance, I would have attended Mass elsewhere. It was too late to drive to any of the other nearby parishes.

In preparation for Mass today, I read the Gospel (one of my favorite passages) and thought to myself: “How many of us who attend Mass regularly have the same experience the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus had - not recognizing Jesus until the breaking of the bread?” 

(Source: freebibleimages.org)
I was looking forward to welcoming Jesus into this tarnished unworthy fleshly tabernacle and hearing the morning’s homily. I went to another parish only to find their pastor was also on retreat. I had time to drive to yet another Church – the same result – no priest – no Mass.

In all the years I have lived in this area, there is the very first time that weekday Mass was not available in at least one of these three parishes. What a stark reality check!

Jesus promised that He would remain with us to the end of time. For decades we have had easy and ready access to Him in this country. Despite this great gift, some of us have ignored Him and many others have taken Him and His Presence among us for granted.  
We are about to pay an increasingly steep price for such ingratitude.




  1. Doesn't it frost you that your pastor and the others didn't communicate their plans to each other? Don't they talk? Perhaps they all went together? That would be worse because the view from the pew would be that the souls they're in charge of don't matter as much as their selfish wants.
    Wouldn't it be common courtesy to announce, both from the pulpit and in the bulletin that the pastor is on retreat and they'd be no daily Mass in the parish, but St. ________ has a Mass at ___, and St. ________ at _____.
    Would any other occupation allow such thoughtless behavior?

  2. Faith:

    I agree with you that there should be nothing more important to our priests (short of attending to the needs of the dying) then to be sure that the souls entrusted to their care can attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass everyday if they choose to do so.

    However, in this instance, I don't blame my pastor, who has two parishes, is recovering from serious surgery and exhausted after Holy Week. Had I been in my home parish for Easter, I would have heard him announce his plans both from the pulpit and in the bulletin.

    I think you have previously suggested that parishes within a specified geographical area should schedule their respective daily Masses in such a way and at different times that daily Mass would be accessible to anyone who wished to attend. That is a great idea and one I believe that will have to be soon implemented.

    My recent experience was, hopefully, an aberration. Parish support staff can avoid this problem from occurring in the future by following your suggestion to list the time and location of area Masses in the bulletin on those occasions when the pastor will not be saying weekday Masses.

    I know there has been a reluctance to do that in this area in the past. I am not sure why. I also know that the USCCB many years ago directed that such practices be followed.

    No matter what we do now, we may never assume that we will have no difficulty attending Mass or being in the Presence of Our Lord in the future. He warned us this would come to pass. We didn't listen.

  3. That is such a coincidence that I am thinking it may have been a diocesan retreat for all priests? We have that once a year in our diocese. One year my deacon hubby did communion services. I know of one deacon who was named administrator of a parish that had no priest.
    We are very blessed to have daily Masses in most areas in this country but some areas do not and other countries do not. Some countries are lucky if they have Mass once a year!
    I just cannot imagine. We need to not take it for granted. And we need to pray for our priests!

  4. Colleen:

    This situation was not the result of a coordinated retreat for priests. We have such retreats in our Diocese. They raise the same concern: will there be no where to attend Mass during such retreats?

    For many valid and compelling reasons, "Communion services" are not the answer and may in fact be contributing to fewer priestly vocations and increasing lack of belief in the Real Presence.

    The one thing we can all agree on is the need to pray for all of our priests, all the time and with all our hearts!

    1. I was not suggesting that communion services are the answer. I was just stating what happened.
      Even though my parish has only one priest, that was the only time our parish has ever had communion services in its 21 years of existence. There was one other week many years ago, when there was no priest available, and a vacationing priest showed up in our church on Monday when I was praying there and asked me if I would join him for Mass so he would not be alone! He stayed all week and said daily Mass for us! What a blessing! Thank you Lord!
      God bless!

  5. Since the local Carmelite community disintegrated due to lack of vocations, we can never have a Monday Mass because all priests take the day off. The idea that a priest shouldn't say Mass on his day off is a huge contributor to lack of faith. During the week of the diocesan priests' retreat, we have NO Masses at all anywhere except at the hospital chapel by the missionary chaplain there who is not counted as a diocesan priest. We have few vocations in this diocese. The EF is tolerated at one location, but is expendable when some event must be scheduled in its time slot. We have no Eastern rites of any kind in the diocese. Our churches are locked up most of the time. I've learned to place myself in front of the Blessed Sacrament interiorly when I'm meditating, and of course I pray for my bishop and the priests. We are lacking a comprehensive approach to build the faith in our diocese and there is no leadership from the bishop who seems intimidated by the older more modernist priests. We are indeed going to face worse times if we do not put effort into major renewal.

  6. We do tend to forget how blessed we are when we can attend mass daily. More and more in our area parishes are going to one daily mass around 9 am; which makes it impossible for working people to attend unless they have access to one of the downtown churches that does mass at noon. Still, that is a convenient time for the majority of people who do attend daily mass in a parish--the retired folks, and it is probably easier on Father than early morning or in the evening when everyone else wants a part of him.

  7. Colleen's thought was mine. I remember a priest once suggesting that Communion services weren't the answer, but the Liturgy of the Hours was. Not to the global problem, but to the need for the prayer of the Church in the absence of a priest.

  8. Barb, RAnn and Kathleen:

    I thank each of you for commenting.

    Barb, we apparently share similar experiences. We must pray that our bishops and priests will put the Eucharist first.

    RAnn, I love and treasure our priests and recognize the many responsibilites they shoulder. At the same time, they are the only ones who can offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and should do whatever is necessary to make it available to as many who wish to attend daily. The current shortage of priests dictates cooperation among nearby parishes so that more can attend. While difficult, getting up early for Mass is really not too much to ask of ourselves or of our priests. Parishes can alternate Mass times on a monthly basis so the "pain" is shared.

    Kathleen, you are right. It is my understanding that next to the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours is the second most beneficial form of liturgical prayer.

    Weekday Shortage of priests is not an excuse for creating "Communion services" - It was the Mass Jesus instituted. It was His priests who were empowered to offer it - not deacons, not religious and certainly not lay people.

    This issue has been close to my heart for years. I have written on this subject. If anyone is interested, my article can be viewed here:

    Bottom line: We and our all our priests must make the Eucharist the center of every thing we do.