Tag Archive | Mass

Wonderfully made

While I have always loved honoring my mom, my stepmom, my Granny while she lived, and now my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day, there were years when I dreaded it.  Having had four children born too soon before Bugaboo arrived, and two more born too soon in between Beanie and Mr. Man, made Mother’s Day a day when I really (and selfishly) didn’t want to go out of the house.

Yesterday, I began my day with a prayer for all the other moms whose children await them in Heaven, for all those who have been called to mother children with whom they share no DNA, for those whose mothers are no longer reachable by telephone.  I prayed for those who have lost their children to choices and misguided “acts of mercy,” and for those who have gone through adoption proceedings stretching out for years, only to have their hopes dashed at the last minute.  Then I prayed Psalm 139 to thank God for His gift of life, no matter whether those lives are numbered in days or decades, and asked him to bring comfort and peace to those who still wait for their Mother’s Day.

My own day was filled with the laughter of my children, priceless and long-awaited treasures that they are, and the company of family and friends at Mass and afterwards.  I love that Mass on Mother’s Day ends with “Ave Maria,”  to remind us of a frightened young mother who said “yes” to God and “no” to fear.  Do enjoy the Andrea Bocelli version the song title link goes to.  The link on Mr. Bocelli’s name goes to a little story he likes to tell.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You knit each of us together in our mothers’ wombs.  Thank You for the gift of every life, and for the wisdom to discern that every life has merit, wholly unconnected to its income-earning potential.  Thank You for the four little blessings You have vouchsafed to our care, and for all those who comforted us and bore us up with their prayers while we waited for them.  Please help us lift up those who still wait, and those who grieve, and please bless us with the grace of knowing where and when to find them.  Lord, You came to us of woman born.  Help me look always to Your mother, Blessed Mary, for the example of motherhood and discipleship I need.

Good will hunting

I had a tough time getting myself together to make it to Mass yesterday morning; my head was a little foggy from Saturday, and I was grateful for my husband’s gentle prodding to get in the shower and dressed.  He took on the challenge of waking Mr. Man, dressing him, and jollying him into enough civility to give us, as it were, a prayer of making it through Mass.  It’s a good thing my best friend was able to shepherd us all towards the van; he remembered what I had forgotten, that it was our parish moms’ group’s turn to serve the donuts after the 9:30 celebration.  I had forgotten it so completely that I had not notified the other moms, so it would have been rather bad if I had not made it to Mass myself.  Luckily, we share our duty with the Secular Franciscans group, and when I explained my situation to their lovely leader, she responded by embracing me warmly and assuring me that she would lift up our family in prayer.

The tribe was exceptionally well-behaved at this particular Mass, and my husband and I were actually able to hear Father Hudgins’s homily this week.  This Sunday’s Gospel was the passage about Christ as the Good Shepherd, Whose sheep know His voice and answer His call, no matter how lost they may be.  Bugaboo listened quietly throughout most of Father’s teaching, and I’m planning to replay part of it for them when we continue talking about the parable of the Prodigal Son this week.  It occurred to me that I am thankful for a husband who shepherds our family into Godly pastures, even as Christ tends his flocks and leads them to the best of lands when they heed His call.

My biggest lesson from Mass, however, was something I’ve heard at every Mass since last year.  Some readers may be aware that the language of the order of Mass was changed to a more accurate translation late last year.  As part of those changes, the Gloria is now sung, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.”  To me, that may be the most important prayer in the entire Mass at this time; I pray that the Lord will create me as a woman of good will, and help me raise our tribe as people of good will.

We are trying to create a household where our children recognize the rightness of kindness and humility.  A fellow blogger wrote a terrific post the other day about creating a 93% chance of a successful marriage just by managing the ratio of kind words to critical ones (5 to 1 is the target).  If we can set an example of that for our children, we will foster good will in our domestic church, and while we do not want our children to be fools, neither do we want them to grow into the kind of adults who immediately leap to criticize, to tear down, to find reasons to dislike.  Perhaps teaching them to see the beauty first, to see the work of the Lord first, and to spend five minutes admiring it before spending that one discordant minute, will have the effect of arming them against the temptation to petty divisions.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You call us to gather together in Your name on the Sabbath, to worship You as a community of believers.  When we gather, we see Your love in action through our brothers and sisters in faith, praying and singing together.  Thank You for a loving parish community in which to raise Your blessings, and for the many brethren who model Your exhortation to charity to them.   Please keep my tongue gentle, even when I must correct, and help me show always my love for Your blessings in the way I raise them.  They will treat each other the way they see me treat those around me, and if my mouth is filled with spiteful words and anger, they will learn it from me.  Please grant me the grace of a heart filled with mercy, and a direct line from that heart to my mouth.  Teach me to celebrate life and give thanks to You with every thought, word, and deed.

I have called you each by name . . . again, and again, and again . . . it’s not working!

Mass this morning was an adventure.  Theoretically, since I was up at 5 and the girls were up at 7, we should have had no problem making it to 9:30 Mass en famille.  However, when there are four tiny people under the age of 5 involved, nothing is simple by the time we get through with it.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy awoke at about 8:45, and after a mad preparatory dash, which included trying to find some breakfast food that would interest Mr. Man more than his sisters’ Lite Sprites, we hustled the tribe out the door at 9:20 a.m.   After wrestling the highly uncooperative Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy into their car seats (thankfully, Bugaboo jumped right into Fran the Van and buckled herself into her seat), we headed off for worship and, we hoped, fellowship.  Our parish has a coffee-and-donuts social after the 9:30 Mass, and more than once, we have extorted good behavior from our elder three with the promise of a Boston creme.

We arrived just before the Liturgy of the Word began, and one of the ushers helpfully directed us to the only pew that would accommodate our family of six . . . directly behind where the altarboys sit, in the very front of the church, very close to the altar.  Baby Guy was pretty happy, since there was another very small person in her car carrier at the end of the pew directly behind us; her parents faced her car seat toward his, and they had a grand time making faces and smiling at each other.  Mr. Man was happy to sit in the pew next to Bugaboo and watch the flickering candles, while Bugaboo was busy being a big girl, sitting quietly and listening to the readings.

And then, there was Beanie.  Resplendent in the fuzzy, pale pink coat she proudly picked out all by herself, she quickly discovered the smoothness of her fuzzy coat made it ideal for sliding on the polished wood of the pew and the polished linoleum of the floor.  My poor husband tried every sotto voce tactic in his considerable repertoire to get her to sit quietly in the pew, several of which were met with wails (she has a remarkable ability to time a loud whine at the exact moments where pauses occur in readings or hymns).  I have never been so relieved to hear her ask to go to the potty in the middle of Mass.

Unsurprisingly, around the time my husband shuffled Beanie out the side door, Mr. Man wearied of watching candles and motionless ceiling fans, and decided he should, perhaps, explore his surroundings.  I was able to divert him for a few minutes by letting him give Baby Guy a bottle; he loves to have a “big guy” job like helping feed his little brother.  Unfortunately, Baby Guy wasn’t nearly as hungry as I had hoped.  As our priest was finishing his homily by reading the bishops’ letter about an assault on our faith by the federal government (please, if you don’t know what this is, click the link and pray for us), Mr. Man decided that the ramp heading up to the altar was simply irresistible, and took off up it.

I lacked the intestinal fortitude to meet the eyes of any of my fellow parishioners as I retrieved Mr. Man from multiple attempts to investigate the altar and its environs, and when he started throwing his shoes, but I was thoroughly grateful to see my husband returning with a not-even-remotely-calmer Beanie.  Since Baby Guy was still cheerfully rocking himself in his car seat, and Bugaboo was intently following the consecration, I scooped up a wriggly Mr. Man and headed for the back of the church.  By the time Communion was beginning, he was sufficiently calm to risk returning to the pew — where we discovered Beanie merrily making dust angels on the floor.

Under the circumstances, the biggest advantage to where we were sitting for Mass was that we were the first ones to go up to receive Communion.  When we returned to the pew, we made a brief effort to sing the Communion hymn,  then realized that we were in danger of being drowned out by Beanie, Mr. Man, and the increasingly distressed Baby Guy.  It seemed to be wisest to pack up our tribe and depart as quickly as possible, which is precisely what we did.  Once we cleared the sanctuary, Mr. Man and Beanie were informed that there would be no donuts today.

I have omitted plenty of behavioral details, such as attempts to skin-the-cat over the back of a pew, but it was definitely not a Mass that led itself to peaceful contemplation of Christian mysteries.  My husband and I had a brief discussion, as we usually after do after mornings such as these, about the wisdom of trying to take all four children to Mass at the same time, which was resolved, as it always is, by our agreeing that we just need to leave early enough that we can sit near the rear of the church.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You gave us the instruction, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. (Mt 19:14)”  Thank you for a church that welcomes Your little blessings, even when they make a less-than-joyful noise in Your house.  We will keep trying, Lord, but please grant us enough wisdom to find a way to explain to Mr. Man that he may not dash onto the altar to request what, to his very young eyes, looks for all the world like a cookie.