I had to revise my conversion story slightly. A specific part that I never spelled out is that Hannah came home and started pushing us to go to weekly Mass because her religion teacher in kindergarten, Mrs. McDaniel (a woman whose vocation clearly is to teach kindergarten, she is amazing), asked the children who went every week. She then told those who didn't raise their hands that they needed to go home and tell their parents they should be going to Mass every week. As we all know, Hannah went right home, obeyed orders, and ... well, the rest is history.
A couple of weeks ago I glimpsed Mrs. McDaniel at Mass as I sometimes do and realized that I never had thanked her. For her that was a routine part of teaching religion, but considering people's touchy feelings these days (yes, even at a Catholic school), I know that she was taking a risk in telling those little children to go home and push their parents to go to Mass. Of course, I am so very grateful that she did as it changed my life completely as well as that of our family.
You see, I tell my 7th grade CCD students much the same thing. I know there are many of them who miss Mass pretty regularly. Our textbook is very good (The Life of Grace, Faith and Life Series, Ignatius Press). It makes it clear that missing Mass is a serious sin unless there is a significant reason like severe illness or a local blizzard. The students are concerned because they have missed Mass and they don’t want to be in a state of sin. My response is to tell them that they have learned that missing Mass is a serious sin. They need to share this with their parents. If their parents still do not take them to Mass, then it is the sin of their parents when they do not go to Mass. However, if they sit silently and make no effort to encourage their parents to take them to Mass because they really don’t want to go to Mass, then that could be considered a sin on their part.
I have never gotten any feedback on these lessons. I don’t know if the students are really talking to their parents about Mass attendance. However, reading Julie’s story gives me hope. Maybe, one family will find the grace of regular Mass attendance because I gave a student the impetus to nudge his parents along. I really don’t need to hear that I actually did make a difference. I just like to read stories like Julie’s to keep me believing that it is possible to make a difference.