This comes from the public Facebook page of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School in Mobile, Alabama.
Father Stephen Vrazel posted the following message:
People have been asking me if we will be blessing pets at St. Vincent’s on the feast day of St. Francis—this Friday, October 4.
We will not. Let me explain why.
I do not feel it is in keeping with the mission of our parish or our school to host an event for which families will bend over backwards to bring their pets, even though it is a workday, while at the same time, many of those same families consistently fail to bring their children to Sunday Mass.
Your pets are beautiful creatures of God, but they are not sinners in need of redemption, and they are not members of the Church. They have no need to hear the word of God proclaimed nor of receiving the spiritual nourishment of the Eucharist. Your pets will be fine without a blessing. Your children will not be.
I know it is hard to bring your children to Mass. I know that teaching them how to behave in a pew is a long process. I realize that you might feel you do not get much out of it yourself or that you might even have been hurt by someone in the Church.
In spite of that, your children need Jesus, and so do you. God has given you your children with the expectation that you will provide not only for their physical needs, but also their spiritual needs. While it might be difficult to come to Mass, I promise you that the rhythm of life of weekly Mass attendance does get better, and it does bear fruit.
“Your pets will be fine without a blessing. Your children will not be…Failure to bring your children to Mass is a mortal sin.”
Just this morning our Pre-K3 and Pre-K4 students came to daily Mass (as they always do on Thursdays), and they were very well behaved. They got a little squirmy toward the end, but they made it just fine, and they were attentive and saying the responses. I am very proud of the great job our teachers are doing with them. It takes some repetition, but children can learn how to sit still and listen. In a world where our children hardly ever get a chance for silence, I hope you can see the value in giving them some quiet moments before the Lord. The same could be said for us adults.We teach the Catholic faith in its fulness at St. Vincent’s, so that means our students are taught that failure to attend Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin. We do not teach them that they are at fault for missing Mass—we are not interested in crushing a child with guilt for something that is not his or her fault. But just as we teach them, I want to teach you: failure to bring your children to Mass is a mortal sin that should be confessed before receiving Communion. They have an excuse: their parents do not bring them. You do not have an excuse.
To further clarify: Friday school Mass does not fulfill your obligation. (It is your obligation, not your child’s.) Christians have gathered on the first day of the week since the very beginning of the Church, because Sunday is the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Regular Sunday Mass attendance is fundamental to your identity as a Christian. In this family, you are expected to be at family dinner.
You might right now be thinking of all the excuses you have for not being present on Sunday. (Some of them might actually be valid.) But I beg you instead to start looking for reasons to come rather than reasons to stay away. Christ invites you and your family to something wonderful and powerful. If there is brokenness in your family, coming to Mass will help not hurt. Your first week back at Mass might be challenging, but stick with it. You will not regret it.
(Finally, I recognize that we have non-Catholic families in our parish. We are so happy to have you as part of the St. Vincent’s family! It is good for you to be faithful to your own religious tradition, but know that you are always welcome to come to Mass with us.)
See You On Sunday!
Fr. Stephen Vrazel
Will it work? I’ll be curious to see what the response is.