Big news from the Diocese: Most Rev. Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg, and Mr. Daniel Breen, Secretary for Education and Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese, announced the start of a strategic vision process to strengthen Catholic education in the Diocese of Harrisburg.
Throughout the summer and the 2021-2022 school year, the Diocese will gather and study data, including conducting surveys and interviews. This information will be used to develop the strategic vision for the Diocesan Catholic schools. It is anticipated the vision plan will be completed by May 2022.
As this process progresses, updates will be posted to the strategic vision webpage – www.hbgdiocese.org/christbeforeme.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BRINGING CHILDREN TO MASS
By Jim Gontis
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Mt. 19: 14.
When we bring our children to Mass, we are bringing them (as well as ourselves) to Jesus, to His perfect Sacrifice offered to God the Father for the salvation of mankind.
We are bringing them to Jesus – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
We are bringing them to the fountain of grace flowing from His Paschal Mystery!
Don’t miss the grace!
Here are a few tips and reminders for parents regarding the importance of bringing their children to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation:
1. Bring them and keep bringing them – be consistent. Mass is the greatest gift and privilege this side of Heaven.
2. If possible, sit close to the front…it is almost always the easiest place to find a seat.
3. Try to get to Mass a little ahead of time and stay a few minutes after. Saint Pope Paul VI wrote of the power and importance of saying a short prayer of thanksgiving for a few minutes after Mass.
4. Use common sense in terms of noise – be not too quick to jump if there is some very “light” noise or murmuring, (they are children, not adults), but if the baby is wailing or the child is “throwing a fit,” take him/her to the cry room or vestibule until he/she is calmed down.
5. My opinion is that it is best to leave the toys at home. If your child needs his/her blanket that’s fine, and quiet. If he/she must have something else, maybe a colorful Bible book or book on a saint, or on the Mass would be good. Just be careful he/she does not launch it like a missile at the back of some poor, unsuspecting soul’s head. Bottles are ok and often necessary. Please save the crackers and food until after you leave church.
6. To the best of your ability, please teach your child about the basic parts of the Mass – especially what happens at the Consecration, when the Priest, by God’s power, changes bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Note: The more prayerful and faithful that we as parents are, the more pre-disposed we will be to tap into the graces that are available to us in the Mass and the better able we will be to communicate the Faith effectively to our children. The better we do this, the more likely it is that we and our children will come to truly know and love God and get to Heaven.
7. When children enter the church, teach them to bless themselves with holy water. When you get to your pew, teach them to genuflect toward the tabernacle, since the tabernacle contains the Eucharist, which is Jesus. We should not expect children to learn or to believe this on their own without help from us, their parents. We need to teach these things over, and over, and over again. And we must keep striving to be patient.
8. From time to time, walk around the Church with your child(ren), e.g. tabernacle, stories on stained glass windows, altar, crucifix, baptismal fonts, Nativity scene at Christmas, etc.
9. Don’t let the Mass be the only time your kids pray or that they see you pray. Minimally, there should be family prayer together each day in the morning, at meal times, and before bed. Also, pray for your kids every single day, and ask our Blessed Mother and the Saints to intercede for them and for you.
10. Children need to be taught and to learn the “old standards”, e.g. Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Prayer to Guardian Angel, etc. It is also good to teach your children to talk to God naturally about what is on their hearts. It should not be an either/or between memorized prayers and extemporaneous prayers. We need both.
11. Patience is crucial. Try to strike a balance between an appropriate firmness so that your children learn boundaries and proper behavior, but also a certain and appropriate “lightheartedness” is important. Remember we want them to learn their Faith, but also to love it.
If they love it, they are more likely to want to learn more and practice it for the “long-haul” and vice versa.
12. Don’t speak disrespectfully of the Mass, the homily, the music, the Priest, etc. This sets a bad example for the children and can eventually, in later years, lead to them being cynical about the Faith.
13. Pray with your children every day.
14. Try to attend Mass at the time that is best for the children. This will also make things easier on you and everyone will be happier.
15. Make sure you are going to Confession frequently and getting your kids to Confession frequently. If it has been a long time, then there is no better time than the present. If you have forgotten how to go, the Priest will help you. The sacrament of Confession is like
taking a spiritual bath. A good Confession gets rid of all our sins, no matter how many, no matter how serious! Going to Confession is one of the best things you can do to if you and your kids are going to be good, are going to successfully fight against the wiles of the devil, and if you want to get to Heaven…and if you want your kids to get there, too.
16. Try to make the Lord’s Day (Sunday) a day of prayer to, and worship of, God. Going to Sunday Mass is the most important and greatest thing we can do the whole week. It is good to have wholesome fun on Sunday, too, especially if it involves your entire family. Let’s just make sure to prioritize getting to Mass, both for your kids and for yourselves!
17. Persevere, Persevere, Persevere, Persevere, Persevere, Persevere, Persevere!!!
BENEFITS FOR CHILDREN IN PARENTS BRINGING THEM TO MASS EVERY SUNDAY
* The grace being poured out.
* Helps to develop a love and fascination for sacred things.
* When brought to Mass frequently, children more quickly learn the language of the Faith.
* Once our kids realize that going to Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation is a “nonnegotiable”, they probably won’t fight you on going nearly as much…that is, as long as we are going to Mass every Sunday, too.
* Following up on the previous point, not one of is close to being a perfect parent, but let’s not let our frequent failures keep us from persevering in trying to become a better and better parent. God desires of us that we keep persevering in this great privilege and responsibility that He has entrusted to us.
* Behavior at Mass gets better earlier if the kids are taken from the time they are babies and get used to going. This is not easy. It is hard. It is also worth it.
* The Faith becomes interwoven into the “fabric” of their lives.
* A love for, and hungering after, the Real, Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
My Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As our world continues to suffer due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I ask that you join me in continuing to pray for an end to this pandemic. I also ask that you continue to offer prayers and gratitude for those in medical and emergency response professions. Their efforts have been nothing short of heroic during this year.
As we all eagerly await the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, I write to you to clarify concerns on the moral and ethical development of these vaccines. Of most concern is that these vaccines may have been developed in a way that involved the use of cell lines from aborted babies. This is concerning, especially to Catholics, but it is also a very complex matter. Given the complex nature of this situation, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) carefully evaluated each of the expected vaccines as they relate to Catholic Moral Teaching. They stated that:
“Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine involved the use of cell lines that originated in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any level of design, development, or production. They are not completely free from any connection to abortion, however, as both Pfizer and Moderna made use of a tainted cell line for one of the confirmatory lab tests of their products. There is thus a connection, but it is relatively remote.”
I certainly understand the deep desire to avoid vaccines that are in any way connected to abortion. To aid our understanding and clarify teachings regarding vaccines and our Catholic faith, the Holy See has published several documents during the past 15 years to address these concerns. These documents do state that it is immoral to take the tissue from an aborted child for the purpose of making cell lines. However, these documents also state that, “If there is a grave health risk to the child or the person, and if there is no other option, and if the person taking the vaccine or the parent makes their objections known and actively works to see that alternatives are brought to the market, then they may use the vaccines.” In short, if there is a serious health concern and there are no other options, then on the level of the recipient, it is morally permissible to accept vaccination.
Based on this information, I wish to reassure you, my Catholic brothers and sisters, that once the vaccines are available and if you choose to receive it after considering the information above, it is morally permissible to do so. Some are asserting that if a vaccine is connected in any way with tainted cell lines, then it is immoral to be vaccinated with them. This is an inaccurate portrayal of Catholic moral teaching.
I thank each of you for your continued observance of our Diocesan guidelines as we strive to maintain safe worship spaces as well as school and work environments. I also pray for your continued good health and for the health of all those impacted by this pandemic.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer
Bishop of Harrisburg