By Fr. Joseph Sia
The other day I bought a book from a resale store. It was a book on how to write personal letters and business correspondence in Spanish. Little did I know that the book would not only help me with my Spanish language skills, but also with my role as a pastor, and my appreciation for Sunday Mass!
In one of the exercises in the book, a fictional character was complaining about Sundays — how she did not look forward to that day because it meant the end of the weekend, and that a new work week was about to begin. She dreaded the thought of losing her mini-vacation and having to wake up early the next day. This frame of mind made her abhor Sundays. When I read that, I stopped doing the exercise and put down the book. I thought to myself, “If the author had a different perspective on Sundays, then maybe she would not have used that as an example for a lesson in Spanish grammar.”
I was affected by her words because, as a priest, I know the value of Sunday as a day for Catholics to rest and to come to Mass to give God thanks and praise. I began to wonder if some Catholics have the same viewpoint as the author of the book, which in turn could impede their attendance of Mass. After all, if somebody sees Sunday in such a negative light, then it could be another item added to the list of reasons for not going to Mass on Sundays. In any case, with the advent of Saturday evening Mass, this excuse doesn’t really work — even in parishes where Mass is only celebrated on Sundays, because there are nearby parishes with a Saturday evening Mass. Perhaps seeing Sunday as the first day of the week and not the last day of the weekend could help. Of course, a profound love for God and his Church is also important in developing a positive attitude towards Sundays and coming to Mass.
Just the other day, a Spanish-speaking parishioner who had been very active in the parish as a lector apologized to me for not attending Mass on Sundays in the parish because she has had to work on Sundays; however, she did say that she had been attending Saturday evening Mass (in English) in another parish. I assured her of my understanding and commended her effort to attend Mass. She has not allowed the language barrier nor her need to go to work on Sundays to prevent her from attending Mass. I have also observed that on the few occasions when she is off on a Sunday, she is present at the Spanish Mass.
I am really glad that I bought that book not only because I feel more confident in writing letters and homilies in Spanish, but more importantly, because I am able to share this story with you. I hope that we Catholics will continue to grow deeper in our love for God and for the Mass, and prioritize our lives accordingly.
(Fr. Sia is pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Columbus Junction.)