July 17, 2020

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Jim Wood

Daughter offers reminder why Mass and Sunday still matter

Jim WoodOur daughter, Sarah, was about 7 when, on New Year’s Eve, some 90 minutes before midnight, she exclaimed, “Hey, I’m going to bed because I’m tired and we have Mass in the morning. I suggest you guys come to bed, too!”

My wife Andrea and I looked at each other, then in unison we laughed out loud. Sarah was not pleased, and she stormed off, running up the stairs. A few minutes later, we followed, and Sarah had tucked herself in. Since she was still awake, we sat on her bed and said we were sorry for laughing. She said it was OK.

Then she said something I’ll never forget: “I want us to be fresh for Mass tomorrow because it’s a special day.” Then in unison Andrea and I both shed tears.

I relate that story not because it might draw an air of sentiment, which it should. I relate it because even a kid can have a notion of the transcendent goodness of Mass. Albeit, that holy day of obligation on Jan. 1 may not have been a Sunday, yet it was important for all of us as a family to come together to celebrate Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and to receive all the grace from God through the holy Eucharist.

And although that New Year’s Eve we did not make it to midnight, we received something far greater: the wisdom of a young girl, who to this day still believes Sunday is a special day because of Mass.

I have completed my first year of service with the archdiocese in the role of coordinator of catechetical resources. During this time, I became familiar with the inner workings of the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis, in particular the Office of Catechesis.

As a lifelong Catholic, I was amazed by the things I did not know about catechesis, evangelization and worship. I thought I could take on this position and put a fresh spin where everyone would pat me on the back and wonder why I wasn’t here sooner. Yet, as humble a statement as that is, I realized that not only does my work matter to many people, but also Sunday matters to many as well.

We have recently returned to work full time at the office after a three-month period of working from home. Not only was our commute to the office severed, but our obligation to attend Mass on Sunday was detached, too.

Working from home had its challenges, yet we were able to complete many tasks and remain functional as an office.

Back in May, director of catechesis Ken Ogorek and I recorded a spot for Catholic Radio Indy. Not being there in person to record, not being able to see our colleagues, not being able to gain insight if our effort was well done, made for an interesting morning of feeling out of place. Yet, being the professionals they are at Catholic Radio Indy, it turned out to be an awesome show about the great things we do in the Office of Catechesis.

We recently returned to Mass at St. Simon the Apostle Church in Indianapolis last month after a three-month interruption. Not only was our obligation commuted, but our physical presence had been forbidden.

Watching Mass from home, even with a missal in hand, presented its challenges. Do we need to fast for an hour, or can I sip coffee during the homily? Should we kneel and ring bells, or sit with phone in hand, checking our favorite app?

The Office of Catechesis strives to bring the understanding and appreciation of Sunday Mass to the forefront of our work in order to help our parishes continue to create disciples of Jesus. The joy of returning amid restrictions brought back a flood of memories and a prayer of thankfulness.

I was reminded by Sarah’s insight as a young child to never take for granted our freedom to worship, the need to be fresh for Mass, and the desire of returning to the greatest hope we have—the liturgy. Thank you, Sarah.

(Jim Wood is archdiocesan coordinator of catechetical resources and a diaconal candidate for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He can be reached at jwood@archindy.org.)

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