Allow me to offer two difficult aspirins to the perpetual headache. The first is for those who still have their kids at home, at any age: parents, reclaim your rightful scepter. Parents are parents because their children are unwise. I often hear the suggestion from parents that they wish to let their children “choose” their religious practice. To this I promptly respond, “Your child cannot even tie their shoes, nor live on their own, let alone know about eternal realities.” Life lived from merely our own choice is often Hell, and thus God invented limitations and boundaries. My parents gave me rules to guide me to good things, and so my mother made me eat broccoli despite my protests. Thus my father made me go to Mass as long as I was under his roof. To act otherwise was to demand severe consequences, to which my parents had the right; for truly they had my best interest. Mistreating a brother might earn a grounding, but woe to the one in the house who mistreats God by missing Mass on Sunday. Serious consequences follow serious matters. So, power to the parent: you can do it, namely, enforce religious practice, and you must for the salvation of what God has gifted you.
Now the second difficult aspirin is the notion of sacrifice. For this, allow me to recount my mother’s enlightenment one Sunday morning, much to my teenage disappointment. A few pews ahead of us was that perfect family, promptly early every Mass, five boys, clad dress shirts, ties and often suits. Prim and proper; the best for God every Sunday. “If those little kids do that every Sunday,” declared my mother, “there is no reason we should look like slobs.” And she added, to my detestation, “and so no more jeans for you! Just dress pants!” Uggh, I must have groaned, but oh to my benefit! What do we show our youth what is really important? It is what we spend time, money, and energy upon; or maybe more pointedly, it is what we sacrifice for. No longer was Sunday Mass just a thing we had to get to; it was a process and so purposeful. It was sacrificial. No longer was there TV in the morning, no music; we had to read the readings together beforehand, and what a game-changer. It turned Mass into game-time. Looking back at it now, it seems so reasonable. How was it that we were so busy about the things of the world, but so flippant about eternal realities? In short, if you want your kids to go to Mass, start sacrificing to show just how important Sunday Mass is. We show sacrifice by what we do beforehand to prepare, how we dress, and what we talk about.
A closing note on a rather difficult couple of aspirins. If going to Sunday Mass is difficult to focus on, imagine what it would be like if the priest were handing out a million dollars to everyone who came. You wouldn’t dare miss it, would you? How would you prepare? What would you need to confess beforehand to not offend the Giver? How would you look for such a grand reception of honor? Indeed, to those who are properly prepared, there is something much more precious than a check, it is God Himself in a little wafer.