Although this might be more revealing to the areas in my life where I’m lacking, most of these are common situations we have all encountered at least once—if not weekly—and so I’m turning to the saints and other great Catholics (or almost Catholics) to give us all the kick in the britches that we need to keep on keeping on.
Your kids (or children around you) are being noisy/loud/distracting
First off, you (or they) are absolutely allowed to be there and if the Church ain’t cryin’, she’s dyin’! But to really hammer this point home, let’s turn to St. Thérèse of Lisieux: “You are wrong to find fault with this thing and with that…We desire to be as little children and little children do not know what is best: to them all seems right.” So it’s almost a situation of “they know not what they do” and very rarely is relegating the future of the Church to a small room somewhere the answer.
Being really temped to break the hour fast before recieving the Eucharist
Though that coffee may smell so tempting and naturally call for a doughnut, hold off until after Mass for “fasting makes for purity of prayer” according to St. John Climacus. I mean though he is a saint, did they even have coffee then? He wouldn’t understand…I kid, I kid.
Contemplating leaving the kids home so you can actually *pay attention* to the readings and homily
And if that wasn’t a good enough kick, here’s Nicholas Black Elk (Native American Convert and Catechist) to fire you up: “Teach your children prayers, see that they go to church. That’s the only way – the Church and the family – to be children ofGod and soldiers for Christ. You must stand your ground and make the fight.” So all the battles you endure getting your family to Mass are not wasted for they highlight the importance of the faith to your children and that will be the basis of their formation as soldiers for Christ. Now I understand why the formation of souls feels like such an uphill battle…it is.
You’re telling me there are people who really get to hear all three readings, the psalm, and the homily? Where do these unicorns live? Not in Arizona, I assure you. Fr. Patrick Peyton underscores the importance of bringing your kids to Mass with you: “The family that prays together stays together.”
When focusing on prayer is difficult whether it be due to internal or external distractions
“I consider no other labor as difficult as prayer. When we are ready to pray, our spiritual enemies interfere. They understand it is only by making it difficult for us to pray that they can harm us. Other things will meet with success if we keep at it, but laboring at prayer is was that will continue until we die.” If St. Agathon thought that back in the 320s imagine what he’d be saying of all the worldly distractions now.
Awkwardly holding your hand out during the Sign of Peace only to be met with the tiny wave back
Maybe this is due to the pandemic and no one wanting to shake hands anymore, but I can’t be the only person extending my hand only to be met with a wave? Or the peace sign?! Look man, I’m trying, meet me in the middle; it’s not like I have leprosy. Though I almost put St .Damien here, C.S. Lewis is the king of community and deserves this place of honor. C.S. reminds me that “friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.” And is a quick wave giving value to survival? I think not. And the peace sign is completely unnecessary. I think that was the beginning of his quote but I was unable to confirm that. Bring some hand sanitizer, reach out to others, and call it a day.
When getting to Mass feels impossible
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get three girls ready for Mass but in my experience, it doesn’t matter how early you start, they will never be ready. Gotta try all the dresses on, fix the hair, the shoes…and I’m talking toddlers not teenagers. Back in a galaxy long ago, before I had kids, I would still find it difficult sometimes to get ready and head to Mass. The mental load felt unbearable some weeks, but the grace was worth it. Thankfully, St. Augustine tells us to “not abandon what you have begun in me, but go on to perfect all that remains unfinished.” Once it’s a routine, you won’t be able to miss it; Sunday will feel empty without Christ.
When mom catches you with two doughnuts at Hospitality Sunday
If they didn’t want you to have two, why’d they buy 50 boxes? We all know the moms will only want one bite; Shirley will refuse to eat any; Agnes will force Phillip to split one; and as for me, I will take two. As Mother Angelica would say, in her typical fiery tone: “I’ll blow the damn thing up before you get your hands on it.” Maybe she was talking about EWTN, or maybe doughnuts….either way, I think she’d approve of my double fisting.
Even if Mass doesn’t go the way we planned, what really matters is being there and being intentional. Here’s to the ones sticking it out!
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