Washing Dishes in Church

So you have made it through most of mass with minimal fussing from the little ones.  Perhaps, the youngest has only had to be taken out once this time.  Everyone just received their blessings after Communion, and for the most part, mass is going okay.  Maybe you have even slipped in a few quiet prayers. 

Everyone has nearly passed through the line and you are watching the Eucharistic ministers and Father finish up. But now is the part of after eucharistmass that you dread, the part that seems to take the longest while you attempt to keep squirrely kids still for just a few more minutes.  You watch as Father wipes every bowl, fills every chalice and dries them carefully.  Every moment seems to drag as you are continually asked, “Are we done yet, Mommy?  How much longer??”  You wish Father would go just a little bit faster as he meticulously cares for each vessel.

But this too is a chance to teach the little ones.  An opportunity to draw parallels between the Church and home. 

As the altar servers bring their Communion plates to Father to be wiped off, it reminds me of how our own children bring their own plates to the sink to be cleaned.  As our priest carefully gathers all of the remaining consecrated hosts to place reverently in the tabernacle, I can see my own hands gathering up all of the leftovers from our meals to put in the refrigerator to use another day.  As Father wipes each dish and cleans out each chalice, he lovingly makes sure that each particle, each drop of our Savior’s body and blood is consumed rather than wasted.  I too wash each dish and glass with love, finally putting away every last dish, sometimes with the help of my children, just as Father uses the altar servers.

I can use this opportunity to point out to my children how our domestic church at home mirrors the meals that Christ provides for His family.  I can point out that our home meals provide food for our earthly survival, our Eucharistic meals are providing Food for our heavenly sustenance.  I can point out how helpful the altar servers are to clean up after our special Eucharistic meal, just as they help clean up after dinner each day.  I can even point out to them how each priest has their very own special chalice to use during mass, perhaps like their own favorite cup.

And while keeping them still may be necessary at the end of mass, to teach them about our Eucharistic meal can excite them into that stillness and awe of mass.   

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