|Photo compliments of Andrew Cheal Photography|
If you read Catholic blogs you can predict seeing certain types of posts or certain comments at certain times of the year. On or about holy days of obligation you can expect to see posts about the poor mass attendance and about how some people (not the blogger of course) don't have their priorities straight. God should come first is the comment. That is also the comment you get from many parish employees when people complain about lengthy or inconveniently timed sacramental preparation courses, religious education classes or just about anything else. If you let sports, work or homework get in the way of ______, you aren't putting God first.
I'll be the first to admit I think most holy days of obligation are more of an obligation to me than anything. I don't feel more holy, I don't feel celebratory, I just feel obligated but being the law-abiding Catholic that I am, I do go to mass (and wonder why the priest doesn't get this over with).
Does putting God first mean putting religious ed and such programs first all the time? That becomes a real question when dealing with high school confirmation classes. What if they are the night before the big test? What if homework is heavy that night? What about football practice, play practice or music lessons? Are we saying "no" to God when we say "no" to these programs? Yes, if religious ed is a priority and it is on Monday night, you don't schedule music lessons or dance class on Monday--that's easy. But what about play practice? Generally speaking, play practice is every night (or at least very frequently) for a relatively short period of time. Missing one practice is no big deal, unless it is the dress rehearsal. What if that's on Monday?
I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, I know there are people who have their priorities out of whack; who will always put everything (including sleep and the NFL) above church attendance or religious ed, but there are also plenty of people out there who are trying to balance multiple commitments and before you make snarky remarks about those who don't make it to your pet program, realize that God is a lot bigger than your program.