Whew! What a beautiful and holy Christmas, with so many people too. We had no less than 8 Masses on Christmas eve and 7 more on Christmas day to accommodate everyone. It is not like we are the only Catholic church in the area either. There are a half-dozen others nearby who were probably just as packed.
In his homily the week before, our pastor commented that we will see many new faces. He also predicted some level of confusion for them with the corrected translation of the Mass. He was right on both counts, of course! I noticed some folks who were just generally confused. Maybe they were non-Catholics, visiting for Christmas (which is wonderful!). Some were probably Catholics who had not been to Mass for a long time and by God’s grace, they have returned to Him.
Theoretically, we should not need extra capacity at Christmas and Easter. All Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass every week. Indeed, it is a mortal sin to ignore God in not keeping the Lord’s Day holy. This is the third commandment (the fourth in most Protestant and Jewish ordering).
Those who come to Mass only on Christmas and Easter are known as CEO Catholics (Christmas and Easter Only) or Cheaster Catholics (CHristmas and EASTER). We are happy to see them, but some folks say they are not really Catholic. That is both uncharitable and technically wrong.
Charitably speaking, we can not judge them (thank God!). Their catechesis may have been so bad that they honestly do not know their obligation. Maybe they honestly forgot. In some cases they may think things have changed, based on bad input from family and friends.
Technically saying they are no longer Catholic is wrong because becoming Catholic is irreversible. Anyone who is baptized or confirmed as a Catholic remains Catholic forever (and interestingly, subject to canon law whether they recognize it or not). It does not matter if they never step into a Catholic church again, if they join a schismatic Christian community (i.e. Protestant), or even another religion all together. It also does not matter if they formally reject Catholicism or what sins they commit, however evil.
At one time, canon law provided for a “formal defection.” While rare, it could be accomplished by petitioning one’s bishop and receiving his approval (typically not given). This discipline changed and the provision was removed. Prior approvals are void. One effect of this is that in most cases (excluding marriage issues or the possibility of latae sententiae excommunication), return to the faith is relatively easy – simply receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (i.e. “make a good confession”).
One issue that is raised by CEO, Cheaster, CINO (Catholic In Name Only), “cultural” Catholics, lapsed Catholics, many Catholic politicians (particularly those who support abortion or gay “marriage”) and every form of schismatic (e.g. those involved with “women priests”) and anti-Catholic Catholics – is the scandal raised. That is, they may represent themselves to the world as Catholic, yet they do not live the faith. Through their examples, they confuse others and lead them away from salvation instead of to it. It is a serious problem for the Catholic “brand.” My solution, which I have long used here, is not to differentiate these individuals by some label but rather to differentiate the rest who accept the truth (without claiming personal exceptions) as “faithful Catholics.”
Back to CEO Catholics… IF they do know and understand the third commandment and Church teaching, why do we not see them every week? Honestly, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Out of curiosity, I Googled the question and found this answer on Yahoo Answers (indicated as the “Best Answer”):
In response to some of the answers here, not all Christians who go to church only on holidays are “CEO” Christians. Actually, some people have to work on Sundays, too. Maybe some people just don’t like going to church. You’re not less of a Christian if you only go on special occasions. And other Christians shouldn’t judge them for not going to church regularly, cause that would make them even less Christian-like than the “CEOs.”
Why do some people just attend church
on Easter and not on other Sundays?
Interesting. Mostly wrong. The true part is that we are not the judge. There is a judge however, and we also know by what standards judgment will be made. The Lord never asks us to do what is impossible. If you truly can not get to Mass at any parish at any of the many times offered during every weekend, then you are dispensed. That is rarely the case. Not liking The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass points to not understanding the awesome divine action unfolding before you, but is no excuse for missing it. You are “less of a Christian” for your decisions to ignore God’s commandments, including purposefully missing Mass.
We pray for the conversion of all those who can not be called faithful Catholics. It is never too late. To those who are CEO – please come back often, we are open year-round!