Follow Up on Camping

A few weeks ago, I sent an email to my boys’ Scout troop about camping over a Sunday and not providing an opportunity for the boys to attend Mass.  Since the troop belongs to my church, I included our pastor on the distro list.  A few hours later, he sent this response:

Thank you for forwarding to me a copy of your email to {the Scoutmaster}.  I think you will find him to be very sympathetic to your concerns.
I’m not familiar with the trip you are referencing.  When asked in the past, I have celebrated the Holy Eucharist on Sunday mornings during Cub Scout camping trips.  It is a wonderful experience … celebrating Mass in the “cathedral” of God’s creation!
For the record, I have not been asked nor have I given permission for scouts to miss Mass. 
To help resolve the conflict, some basic education may be required.  You are right that it is a precept of the Church to attend Sunday Mass.  This is in accord with the third commandment.  This obligation cannot be “dispensed” by a bishop since keeping holy the Sabbath Day is Divine Law, not ecclesiastical law.  The Church does foresee that it could very well be “impossible” to participate in the celebration of the Eucharist (for instance, if you were on a cruise or otherwise in an area without access to a priest or Catholic Church).  These conditions could very well apply to a remote backpacking trip.  Nevertheless, the divine mandate remains.  Canon Law prescribes that there should be a service of the Liturgy of the Word (c. 1248.2) and the day should be treated as a Sunday – different than other days.  Note that the canon specifies “impossible” not merely “difficult” or “inconvenient.”  Hence, those who miss Mass to attend a sporting event or a theme park are guilty of a grave sin. 
I would think that in {national park where the boys were going} there may be priests willing to drive in … as long as the troop is flexible in the hour of the celebration of Mass.  If it is “impossible” to celebrate Mass, a Catholic service of the Word should be provided.
I hope this helps!  Please keep me informed on how the conversation progresses and let me know how I can assist.

Your Pastor

 I was elated by this support.  

The following day, the leader who questioned my son’s reason for not going on the trip sent an apology and a sincere explanation that he in no way meant to dissuade Fritz from his religious convictions.  Of course, I know he did not.  Unfortunately, though, the bad example remains, and actions speak louder than words.  He did mention planning for future camp-outs, so I do have hope that when they look at a calendar and talk about what trips they will do, somebody, somewhere, will say, “You know, if those Reitemeyer boys can’t get to Mass, they won’t go.”  And maybe countless other parents will be happy, not knowing why exactly the troop started making little changes, but just grateful that they did.

One good thing about being old…

…knowing how to drive the old-fashioned way.

Florida thieves forced to shift gears during Corvette carjacking

They didn’t know how to drive a stick shift.

“They apparently couldn’t start it,” Bean said. “I had to tell him four different times to push in the clutch, because it’s a standard transmission.”

My 3 older kids don’t know how to drive, but they know you have to push in the clutch to start their dad’s car.

I had thought we’d never buy another manual transmission again, but maybe we will.  Just wondering if insurance companies will start offering anti-theft discounts for it.

Playground apologetics

I hadn’t planned to get involved in the discussion and was only peripherally aware that the boy, about 9 years old, was arguing with Peter and Mary about the existence of the Tooth Fairy.  Peter and Mary did not seem to be overly interested in the conversation, and Peter had just last week, on the occasion of Mary losing her first tooth, been instructed to keep his opinions about the Tooth Fairy to himself.  I focused my attention on Fritz’s last soccer game, and felt that the conversation in front of me would eventually fade away to other subjects.

But then the boy turned to me and demanded, “Tell them that the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.  Tell them that you are the one who gives them the money!”

“I’m not going to tell them that,” I replied.  Really, I didn’t want to get involved.  Keep in mind that losing teeth is not an extremely big deal in this house.  The going rate for most baby teeth is a quarter, and even my 5 year old knows that isn’t a tremendous amount of money.  Often payments are late…days late…especially if the teeth came out of the mouth of a 10 year old.  But when you are 5 and you go to bed with a tooth under your pillow and the next day it has magically transformed into a coin, it’s pretty cool.  I generally don’t give specifics about the process.  “Put it under your pillow.  They say there’s a fairy who leaves you money for it.  See what happens.”  

But I couldn’t get into the nuances of the imagination with this kid. 

“If you don’t, you’re a liar,” he said.

“But I didn’t say anything…” I tried to object.

“And liars go to the fiery pit of hell!” he declared.

Well, now.  I wanted to explain that liars actually speak lies, and that remaining silent is not the same thing as lying.  I also would have liked to point out that honesty does not consist of always speaking everything you know to be true all the time.  Or openly sharing your opinion with everybody.  And make-believe/fiction is morally legitimate.  But having been officially labeled as one of the damned, he probably wouldn’t have listened.  And he was too busy moving on to his next topic: Santa Claus.

First he said, “Santa Claus isn’t real.”

Peter objected, but the kid tried to shout him down, and turned to me to see how I would respond to that one.

“Santa Claus is another name for St. Nicholas who lived in Myra, which is now Turkey,” I told him.

“He was an evil man,” he told me, “Santa is another name for Satan.”

“No, St. Nicholas was a very good man,” I said.

“No, he’s Satan!”  “Is not.”  “Is too.”  “Is not.”  “Is too.”

Really, this is what I was reduced to.

Finally another mom, unrelated to him, told him to stop arguing.  I was embarrassed.

And I do feel a bit bad about countering another parent’s catechesis of her children.  But if you tell your kids stuff that simply isn’t true, and then set them loose to tell other people that they are going to hell if they disagree, oh, well.  I’m sorry to have to correct your understanding of the history of Santa Claus, and I’ll happily loan you a book or two if you wants some facts.  I agree, Santa Claus, as is commonly portrayed in today’s media, might possibly be a force for materialism and gluttony.  But he’s not Satan.

The frustrations of Catholic parenting

An email I plan to send:

·         Dear Scoutmaster,

When we moved here this summer, my boys went to several troops to see what the area offered.  My husband and I strongly suggested that they select Troop XYZ, in part because it was the troop associated with our church.  It was our hope that our Catholic religious practices would be understood, accepted, and accommodated by the adult leaders.  We are just ordinary Catholics, trying hard to follow the precepts of the Church and raise our children in accordance with her laws.

I was very disappointed to learn that a backpacking trip was scheduled over a three-day holiday weekend.  While I understand the desire to utilize a long weekend for an extended trip, I would have preferred that the itinerary include Sunday Mass.

This past summer, Fritz attended Philmont and loved backpacking in the mountains.  While that trip does, generally, preclude Sunday Mass attendance, the Bishop of New Mexico offers a special dispensation for Philmont hikers, allowing them to attend Mass before or after the trek.  Fritz was made aware that this was a rare exception.  While dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation may be requested from the pastor in order to attend occasional Scout trips, my husband and I, over the course of years of Scouting, have decided that such dispensations are confusing to youth.  They are also confusing to adult Catholics and are especially confusing to non-Catholics who come to believe that Catholics are not obliged to attend Sunday Mass every week.  Our personal family rule is that we will only intentionally miss Mass for high-adventure camps, and that any other weekend plans must include Mass attendance.  Other families may choose differently, but this is our family rule.

Last night, Fritz was asked by Mr. X why he was not attending the backpacking trip.  Fritz explained that he would like to but could not miss Mass.  Mr. X told him that Mass attendance was not necessary and that the prayer service you would have was sufficient.  Fritz persisted and said that a Catholic must attend Mass.  Mr. X argued that he and most of the troop were Catholic and were going on the trip.  While I am sure he meant that the troop would not have planned a camping weekend that was not morally acceptable to Catholics, his argument seems to be that if everybody is doing it, it must be right.  While some religions may operate in this manner, the Catholic Church does not.

While my family can quietly accept that our boys will not be able to attend some camping trips, I am very upset that an adult leader would seek to dissuade my son from his religious convictions, most especially in a BSA Troop which is considered a ministry of Anonymous Catholic Church.  I expect that my children will have to defend their faith to their peers and possibly to some adults.  But I should not have to worry that the adults of any Boy Scout Troop, where a Scout is always reverent, will try to convince my boys that Mass attendance or any other obligation is unnecessary.  If Mr. X were not Catholic, it would be easy to explain that he simply does not understand Catholicism.  Since he and many other adults are Catholic, I, as a parent, have to choose how I explain our choices to the boys.  Are we wrong, or is Mr. X?

I would like you to address this situation with all your adult leaders.  No boy should have to defend his religious obligations to adult leaders.  If any adult is confused about a boy using religion as an excuse for non-participation, he or she should speak to the parents.  I am sure that most parents, like us, would be happy to explain our decision making process.

Michelle Reitemeyer

Bill tells me that Fritz told him last night:  “I have something planned for me every Sunday. It’s called Mass and it’s scheduled every week for a long time.  Like as long as I am alive. And then if I’m too old to go, I’ll have the priest come to me.”  
BTW, I found this post by Fr. Z to be enlightening, however, I feel that he is “outside the loop” on the very real problems facing Catholic parents today and the scandal involved when Catholics plan vacations without consideration of Mass attendance.  Googling this issue proves that many non-Catholic Scouts don’t understand the Catholic obligation and give Catholic parents a hard time about it.  This issue extends to LDS and other religions and even an active Protestant who felt his family should be at their church on Sunday mornings.  I hate to be accused of being holier than the Pope, but as a parent I am required to set an example and the nuances of a dispensation due to travel are too confusing for most of us.  All a teen will understand is that missing Mass every once in a while is perfectly fine.  A post that should ease the consciences of devout Catholics who want to take a cruise only erodes my complaint that trips are planned with no consideration of Sunday Mass.

A New Year

Happy New Year!

My computer has been returned after a virus had made my life online very difficult.  That was one reason why my blogging – blogging?  what’s that? – has been so sparse.

My dad asked me last week, “What is up with your blog?”  He misses the updates on his grandkids.  I know others do, too.  So, though blogging had dropped in my list of priorities following the birth of George and the beginning of school, I think it needs to move upward slightly.  Once or twice a week won’t kill me, right?

Funny…I have such conflicting resolutions this year: more blogging…less time online.  The reality of modern life is that access to email and my online calendar is important.  Last minute changes in activities means not checking email could result in being in the wrong place at the right time.  Or the right place at the wrong time.  Maybe we just need to stop doing things outside the house….