The Mass

Going to mass used to be a difficult, if not painful experience.  Definitely not because of the mass itself!  But because juggling a baby on one hip and trying to shush a preschooler while the toddler banged a toy on the pew, just out of reach of her father, regularly made mass a stressful time.  In fact, many Sundays I would wonder why we even came because we got so little out of the mass itself.  But come back we did, without missing a weekend.  Then I came to know that I participated in mass just by being there.  By my attendance alone was I part of the Body of Christ.  Because as Christ himself knows, I didn’t hear much of the readings, the homily was spent trying to distract the children, and the most praying I did was that he would choose the short Eucharistic prayer so that mass would end just a few minutes earlier.  And when the choir sang all the verses to the closing song or an additional speaker would come up at the end of mass – well let’s just say the kids were done!

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But then one Saturday night, my husband and I went to mass alone when my parents were visiting us.  They figured we could go Saturday while they could get up and attend mass on Sunday morning.  And it was so strange sitting there in the church with our lack of children – Christ’s presence was so surrounding.  I could feel him everywhere.  And as I thought of the future – a day when our children would be long out of the house and we would always attend mass alone, I came to appreciate the busyness of the children, realizing that Christ was still all around us, and maybe even closer to us than he was that Saturday night.  At that point in our lives, we were called as parents to introduce Christ and the Church to our beloved little ones, however painful it might have been for us!

And now years have passed and we have been blessed as a family with our son’s first Reconcilation and Communion and my husband joining the Church after 15 years of not missing a mass.  We also look forward to the First Communion of our daughter in April.  When we attend church these days, instead of child wranglers, my husband and I have become teachers, pointing out important aspects of the mass or being reverent examples for them to follow.   I hope that the people around me don’t mind when I whisper to the children, “Watch how Father cleans out the precious Body and Blood of Christ from the vessels.”  Or “This gospel is one you know – listen closely.”  Or even, “What does Father’s garment color mean today?”  We hope to ignite in each of them a deep and burning love for mass, for the sacraments, for the Church and for our Lord.crucifix

Someday that time will come when the pew next to us is quiet, but for now I am pleased to be a teacher, remembering fondly the feelings the family behind me are suffering through, and knowing that my time as a religious director in my kids’ minds will pass quickly.  Maybe you are in a similar place and if so, give an encouraging word or smile to those exhausted parents around you.  Perhaps you are those exhausted parents, and if so, know that it gets easier and in the meantime, you are holding Christ in your arms.

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