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Question Title Posted By Question Date
Holy Day of Obligation for students Chas. Friday, August 17, 2018


Just recently on the Feast of the Assumption which is a Holy Day of Obligation in my archdiocese, I was talking to some parents of some teen boys and they had already started school. The parents said they were not sure if they were going to able to attend because the boys got out of school late. The last Mass for that day was at 6 PM. I think some other parishes had Mass later than that. The mother said it all depended when their sons got home. Now, it had nothing to do with regular classes but extra-curricular activities which this meant practice for football, soccer or some other activity. Being a public school the district cares nothing about interfering with the duties of faithful Catholics. I had mentioned that it was a Holy Day of Obligation, but the parents again said it all depended when the kids got home.
My contention is that the Lord comes first and they should have forgone practice in order to attend Mass. There of course was the Vigil the night before but still the boys have to attend practice everyday after school. Is this a valid reason for not fulfilling their obligation?
I say it is not.

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OMSM(r), LTh, DD

Dear Chas:

I agree with you. It is not a valid reason to miss a Holy Day of Obligation on either the day itself or on the Vigil. 

I am reminded of Eric Liddell, the Scottish Christian who was a runner for Britain in the 1924 Olympics. He was a devout Christian who ran for the glory of God. While boarding the boat to Paris for the Olympics, Liddell discovers the heats for his 100-metre race will be on a Sunday. He refuses to run the race, despite strong pressure from the Prince of Wales and the British Olympic committee, because his Christian convictions prevent him from running on the Sabbath.

Finally, a teammate offers his race, the his longer 400-metre race to Liddell, in exchange for Liddell's 100-metre. It all works out.

The point, however, is the nothing could convince Liddell to run a race on Sunday, not even the Prince of Wales.

I only wish that Christians today had even half of that devotion and determination.

This should be a no-brainer for these parents.

I should say that their pastor can give them a dispensation from the obligation in lieu of another day. But, if practice is everyday for the kids, what then? While their pastor can give a dispensation, he should not do so, in my opinion, as this is not a sufficiently grave or unavoidable (e.g., work requirements).

The kids can miss one day of practice. If the couch penalizes them for missing one day, then the parents should file a formal complaint with the school administration. If the school will not allow it, then file a complaint with the school board. If the school board will not allow it, then file a law suit on the basis of religious discrimination.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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