Friday, December 9, 2016

Bringing the Stable to the Mother

"Why do we have to go to mass tonight?" one kid complained. "Yeah, why didn't the Church move the feast to Sunday?" The teen sensed a mutiny and fanned the flames. I would have a full scale kid riot for a Holy Day of Obligation if I didn't act.
"We're going to the vigil mass because tomorrow is too full of things for us to make it. The 6:30 will be fine." I soothed. They'd already eaten. They were still dressed.
"I haven't done my homework." one said.
"Me neither." another volunteered.
"You have fourty-five minutes right now." I said and set the timer.
To minimize stress, I lay the coats in a pile, put my purse on top of it with my keys and lined up their shoes. I knew why the eleven year old didn't want to go. She'd had a fight with her two best friends, and the wounds were still fresh. I handed her my phone. "Call them. Say you're sorry. Don't demand anything. Just say what you are sorry for, and that you're also sorry there was a fight at all." She ran off to phone.
I wondered if we'd be spiritually wrecked before we even got to mass, as a shouting match broke out between two over the computer, and the girl with the phone came back, that problem cured, but a new one in tow. She'd been singing a Christmas carol and her brother didn't like it. When her brother didn't like something, he made sure everyone knew it.
I knew why the teen was mad. He wanted to eat. Mind you, he'd had two dinners already, but third dinner promised to be a better one, and so waiting seemed a major injustice. When he's mad, his favorite tactic is to set off as many other people with their own personal mads so that the whole world burns with madness.
I'd hit my limit. I admit, when I start a lecture, it gets a cadence all it's own and it keeps going. "We are going to celebrate and honor the Blessed Mother, and her state of perpetual sinlessness." I put on the first daughter's shoes. "We are going to celebrate a mass as a community and as a family." and handed her a coat. "We're going to sacrifice one hour of our lives to the woman who surrendered her son and didn't scream at the people who killed him." I knocked on the teen's door. "We're going as a family because this is what our faith teaches, it is important, and we're not going to become closer or kinder or better by arguing something none of us have the power to change, only to ignore or accept." I opened the door and they lined up. "Since I accept it and I'm the adult, knock it off and get in the car!"
We drove the three blocks down the road to the church. No one was in the parking lot. The announcement at the end of mass said 6:30, but the mass schedule on the door said 7:30. We went back home. "At least I know, all homework will be done." I said, "And we'll be back, hopefully in a more grateful and celebratory state in an hour."
P.S. They finished their homework and we made it.  The teen took his youngest brother to the back when he needed help quieting down, and when a daughter remarked during one of the songs, "Mary had it easy."  I said, "Nope, she had greater grace, but greater things were asked of her than of you and remember, she had to choose, all her life, to be obedient, even when she didn't feel like it."  Just to prove the point of how difficult obedience is, my son had a slight accident on my jeans.  I sat with him on my lap the rest of mass, draping my coat over the spot.  Mary understood.

I considered Mary's lfe and grace once again.  Mary had and has it hard; she had all of us to deal with, and we're all these messy squirly quarlesome children with different agendas. The mass ended and there was an opportunity to go and venerate a relic from the Blessed Mother.  A piece of her mantle was presented.   After I kissed the relic, I felt a deep sense of knowing, the obedience of grace, is the obedience born of love, that bears all things, hopes all things, and doesn't fail in patience or kindness, even when it seems like it would be so much easier to say, "Knock it off." because I said so.   Walking up, children in tow, smelly, still struggling with the trials of the day and the very real issue of my own wardrobe problem, I felt very much like the stable coming to her, in all its dirty dingey undignified way, coming to be somehow made better by love.  And it did.  Mary's kiss made everything better, even if nothing physically changed, how we treated each other, how we saw each other, did.  

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