Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taking the Kids to Mass - The Hottest Topic in the Catholic Mommy Blogosphere

Is this your life? You aren't alone.

Look, I know I'm going to get flack for this, but I'm going to say it anyway:
Mass is for all baptised Catholics no matter what their age.

Seriously. Staaahp.

There's a conversation going on at Montessori Messy about how much the parents of young children need the sacraments. The author is absolutely right. Parents need that grace.

While she's not really talking about the question of taking the kids to Mass or leaving them home, that naturally becomes part of any discussion about families with young children.

I am a big believer in taking kids to Mass, but that being said, what constitutes "going to Mass" as a parent? Did you still go to Mass if you spent the entire time walking up and down in the vestibule with a wailing toddler who doesn't want to sit still? Does it still count if all you could do is manage to keep little Matilda from pulling the covers off of the missalettes? If you are so embarrassed by little Gregory's ill-timed sung recitation of the ABC song that you want the floor to open and swallow you whole, do you still get the grace of the Sacrament?

Not that my opinion is worth anything, but:
Yes! It does count. After all, this is your vocation.

Now, I am not saying that if your kids are misbehaving, you don't need to correct them. I think that's all part of the sacrifice. You are raising saints for the Church. Of course, we want to train them they way they need to grow. Not every Sunday will be perfect, but we keep trying.

Once upon a time, many years ago, I had an active toddler. And he was a really big guy. It was all I could do to keep him in my arms for Mass if he was being good. If he wanted to move and explore, it was all over. And then his sister came along. I despaired of ever hearing another homily or actually being able to concentrate on my prayer life again.

I went to my confessor for some guidance and he said, "Well...we know you're not a mystic." I had no idea what he meant, and he didn't explain. He just gave me more books to read.

It wasn't until my kids were teenagers that I understood what he was talking about. It all comes down to the definition of a mystic. A mystic doesn't see things in a crystal ball. Mystics are people who find their prayer in the everyday work of life. Being a mother is the work of a mystic. Although it appears not to have any bearing on anything resembling prayer, motherhood is a very important act of worship.

Because: What is worship? A sacrifice.

As a mother you sacrifice lots of things: hot coffee, hot showers, hot meals, sleeping in, sleep in general, (Hmm... seeing a pattern here.)  Unfortunately, you also sacrifice the ability to get all lost in wonder at Mass. It doesn't mean you love God any less. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Mothers sacrifice all their comforts and lay down their lives for their children much in the way that Jesus lays down His life for us in the sacrifice of the Mass.

So, be a mystic, Mom. See the prayer that is your whole life. Embrace that chaos.
I promise: It really does get better.

If you don't follow Montessori Messy, and you are a mom with small kids - do yourself a favor and go look at Sarah Scherrer's blog. She's got some great tips and ideas for exploring the world with your kids and teaching daily living skills. And it's not even hard to do. Plus, she's just an awesome person, too.

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