Last week I wrote about taking my kids to Mass, about being the monkey bars for my two year old to climb on for about 46 minutes of the hour. I was a little worried that I was going to offend some parents who either have absolutely no problem with their children at Mass (you know, “that family”), or that I was going to offend the people who have it even rougher, (the other “that family”). We sat next to the other family at Christmas this year. Despite chocolate chip cookies (my kids were wondering where their cookies were), countless books, and the kind of toys that are perfect for pounding on a wooden pew, these kids were a wreck and had a tough Mass. I felt for the parents and spent a good portion of my post communion time praying for them.
In fact, I did get one email with some pretty strongly worded suggestions – from my wife. I was looking for her feedback, but the speed with which she sent me an email worried me. I opened my email and found, not a list of grievances, but a short summary of other ways she has been blessed through the practice of taking our kids to Mass every Sunday. Here is what she said.
Our 6 year old is paying attention. Two weeks ago, my wife said her mind was drifting during the homily (sorry Fr. Steve), and Ella turns to here and says, “That was a funny joke,” and turns back towards Father giving his homily. Liz immediately turned her attention back to the homily and figured out what was so funny. The rest of the homily Liz watched Ella “get it” as she listened.
If you have or have had little kids you know how often they repeat the same songs over and over. For a long time my 2 year old would sing Justin Bieber’s “Baby” over and over and over again, but by the grace of God that ship has sailed. In its place Sophia has been singing Hosanna, Alleluia, or the Lamb of God. Liz explained, “She is truly a blessing when in the middle of paying the bills, or washing the dishes she starts belting out Hosanna! We are planting seeds in that 1 hour that allows her to evangelize to us (and hopefully others) unknowingly the rest of the week.” Does my 2 year old know what she is doing? Probably not. But how often do I share God’s gifts to me without knowing it? I think our culture places too much emphasis on understanding or knowing when we encounter God – there is a reason why God is ultimately a mystery.
She also reminded me of the countless strangers who have come up and complimented us on our kids (always on a horrible day) explaining that watching our kids grow up at Mass each week has been a real blessing in their lives. Once again, we don’t always know how we can bring the good news of the gospel into other people’s lives.
Why do you go to Mass? What is your motivation to pack up the van, change out of jammies and stack your Catholic family into a pew for an hour each week? What about going to Mass each week makes it worth it?