I pulled into the garage, parked the car, and nearly collapsed into hysterical laughter. “How was Mass?” My husband asked. Then, seeing me draped over the steering wheel, he said, “well, at least you can laugh about it…”
It was our daughter’s name day, and our nearby parish (we attend two different Catholic churches; one is close, and one farther away) had an evening Mass after dinner. My husband had to cut the grass, so I thought perhaps the girls and I could spend some time with Jesus.
My oh my did that turn out differently than I expected. It started when, instead of being 10 minutes late, we were actually 20 minutes EARLY. No problem, I thought. Daily Mass is usually pretty quick, and we have plenty of books to occupy the toddler.
Well…today books could not hold her attention. We had everything from attempted nakedness (thankfully averted) to poorly-chosen toys crashing loudly to the floor and BOTH girls screaming simultaneously. The toddler also thought it would be a great idea to redecorate the pews with the tape that was supposed to indicate which seats were closed off for social distancing purposes. “Clare. STOP.” I hissed over and over again, missing most of the lovely sermon and desperately trying to keep my mind on Jesus. The kicker came when, shortly before the Consecration), she slipped off the kneeler and fell, biting her lip in the process.
You already know what happened next. Great wailing and gnashing of teeth, and my dragging the crying toddler into the vestibule with the baby on my front in the Ergo. We had to stay out there (though thankfully the doors were open) through the Consecration until it was time for Communion. What is the POINT?! I thought self-pityingly, looking at Jesus. I can’t pray, I can’t stay focused, when they ARE quiet for all of 30 seconds, my mind starts wandering…Why do this, especially when it’s not a Sunday? Why not just leave right now?
Then I realized that the reason has nothing to do with me and my perception of whether we’re having a “good Mass” or not. Rather, it’s because He’s worthy. If I believe God loves me so much that He became Man and died on the Cross for me; if I believe that He comes down from Heaven every day under the appearances of bread and wine; if I believe He is closer to me than I am to myself, then the only thing that matters is doing what my loving Father asks of me because I want to love Him. Had I packed up and left early, I would have missed receiving Jesus, and also the very kind help of a young lady who spent the whole of Mass after Communion (her first opportunity in months!) walking the now-loopy toddler around the vestibule so I could have some quiet prayer time. What a grace.
Of course, we headed straight home afterwards, and everyone went to bed pretty quickly; I will not pretend it wasn’t stressful, nor that the whole experience didn’t feel completely insane. Of course, I won’t be taking both girls to daily Mass every day, especially when I know that they or I need more sleep, or are sick.
Nevertheless, we will keep going when we can, and my husband and I will continue to help our children to love God.
I remember hearing a story about an elderly Jewish man who belonged to a particular branch of Judaism that denied the immortality of the soul. Despite believing that his soul would cease to exist upon his death, the man was a devout practitioner of his faith, and did his best to keep the Mosaic law. One day, someone asked him “Why do this if eternity does not await you?” The devout man replied, “because He’s worthy.”
Indeed, God is worthy.
Even when everyone is screaming.