As a child, I went to church every week. There was no question. We went to Sunday School, which was not offered at the same time as the Sunday liturgy, and then we stayed for the church service. We were there for at least 2 1/2 hours every Sunday. My parents attended bible study as my brother and I attended Sunday School and then we went to church and sat in the front left pew (I am a creature of habit, you will still find me there every Sunday) as a family. We dressed in our Sunday best, many times had brunch after church, and started our day focused on Jesus.
I will readily admit there were days that my mom had to drag us to church as we got older. Sleeping in until noon was a greater priority for my brother and I as we entered High School, but she encouraged us to go nonetheless. Yes, there were out of town soccer games that would interrupt our going to the later service, but those days, my mom would just wake us up early, go to the early service, and then bring our clothes to change into so we could make it on time. I am absolutely, 100% sure it was stressful for my mom. We were whining, tired, hungry, bored, lazy kids who didn’t want to be there, but we went. And those Sunday’s formed me into the person I am today. I believe all of that time spent in church eventually led me to search for the Truth which changed my path and brought me to the Catholic church.
Our current church has been going through some changes in children’s programming to enable families to worship together during Mass (elimination of preschool PSR during the Mass). This past week, as I have had many of my friends calling me, asking me questions, getting angry, and expressing their views of the changes, I have been more acutely aware of the importance of worshiping as a family.
During Holy Week, my family started the week visiting St.Anthony’s Chapel. To see my kids interested in the 5,000 relics while at the same time being respectful, reverent, bowing every time they crossed the altar, and speaking in a whisper as they lit candles and sent up prayers for the faithful departed, I was reminded of the holiness that is growing in their hearts through their love of Jesus and the Eucharist (by the way, all of their actions were not prompted, they have simply learned how to act because we are at Mass and they know Jesus is present).
All three of my kids worshiped on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday and they were so good. Yes, there may have been some arguing in the pew with their sibling, dropping of hymnals, and needing to go to the bathroom during the consecration, but they were there and they heard God’s word and felt his presence even if it didn’t seem like it.
I will never forget Easter Sunday when we were singing the “Alleluia” right before the Gospel reading and I hear this little voice, my five year old’s voice, singing the words as she was coloring. It was like an angels voice, soft and sweet. That moment made me realize just how much she is learning by being in Mass. She is learning prayers, stories from the bible, and songs that she can recall in times of need, just as I did by learning the Lutheran liturgy in my upbringing, which I never would have done had my parents not taken me every week. My daughter can’t read, but she is taking part in the most Holy sacrifice of the Mass, and there isn’t a week that goes by when she doesn’t ask “Mom, when can I have the Christ?”.
I look forward to the day she can receive our Lord and Savior; body, blood, soul and divinity. But before that day comes, I find peace in knowing that no matter how stressful it is for a parent to get their kids to church on time and then expect them to behave, they are learning and growing in a deeper relationship with our Lord and seeds are being planted that will give them hope in the dark days that are yet to come.