Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pew Sitters and Kneelers take a Stand

Mass two days after Christmas feels like too much church for some of my crew.
Just after the homily, my darling 4 year old grew weary of sitting and stood up. This was fine, as she still barely tops the pew. But when her older brother moved in on her place in the row, she said quite loudly, "That's my spot. HE TOOK MY SPOT."

Thank goodness for my other son, who very deftly explained, "He didn't take your spot. He took mine and I took his." Pew Tetris isn't for the faint of heart. The dynamics of place settings rival a state dinner or an analytic question on the GRE.
She then asked in a loud voice, "Am I being good enough to get donuts?"

If I say yes, she will view every action she takes from this point on as mitigated by that admission against interest. If I say no, I will here heart wrenching caterwauls from the same person for the rest of mass. "We'll see." is the weak response I mumble to put her off for a while.

Midway through the liturgy, I get an urgent memo: "I'm tired." from one who should know better. I also get "When is this over?" during the song for the offeratory. Fortunately, the primary clock watcher can't actually tell time so I said, we're more than half way through the mass and that satisfied.

I don't know if other parents use the responses of the laity in the mass as editorial comments but it seems God understood we would need to occasionally talk in code to our children, to mentally cuff their noses while everything appears perfectly orderly.

"LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION." "PEACE be with you." and "Lord have Mercy." often get special emphasis in our family, such that some of our kids think you are supposed to raise your volume at that point in the prayer. I do know the lady behind me was overcome with a fit of giggles because of all the double meanings being conveyed through everyday responses.

Still, it's hard to get too frustrated with these people who don't quite know how to be present at mass because I too sit there distracted as I try to direct one to wait until after to go to the bathroom, another not to play with the kneelers and a third that he has no excuse for me not hearing his voice when 1) he can read 2) he has the loudest voice at home and anywhere else and 3)I can see his lips moving but no sound is issuing forth.

I too am not fully present, trying to remember our envelope number and scribble a check during the song, making sure we have all 22 gloves and 11 coats. We come back from communion and I keep searching the aisles, looking at all the faces, wanting to see in them what I know they cannot find when they see me.

The distraction is not limited to my family. We are two days from Christmas. We had just received communion. We ought to be lighter, brighter for the gift of the Eucharist. We ought to not be bothered by the coughing in the back or the music coming in late or the occasional opening of the Church doors in the back. We ought to be mirrors of the star that lit that night so long ago. We ought to be awash in light for others. Yet everyone looked worn and tired.

And so when my four year old clapped her hands when the priest finished the announcments, I felt grateful for the reminder via my daughter of how we are to regard this gift of the liturgy, of celebrating the mass and having it mean what it means. For a moment, she understood and was in rapt attention in a way most of us would have to work to find within ourselves.

Then we went back to, "That's my spot." and I was reminded, "Lord, we are not worthy to receive you." Thankfully, He says the word and all is healed.

Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

MightyMom said...

sad thing is....on Sunday I went to Mass


on my way home after work.

I had no hooligans to distract me...and yet, I was distracted.

Some days I just show up and thank God that He see me and loves me just as I am....


Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!