Though we rushed and had the best intentions, we’re still leaving twenty minutes behind schedule for Easter Mass. During the short drive to the church, resisting waves of irritation, I try to find the joy.
We get out of bed at five and spend an hour and a half coaxing our fussy eater to have breakfast. Then getting washed and picking a pretty dress takes forty-five minutes. While wrestling a resistant five-year-old into a coat and boats, a drop of sweat rolling down the back of my neck, I take a moment to admonish her imaginary friend who is a bad influence. Finally, we run through torrential Spring rain to the car to find that it has just enough gas to get us to the church and then straight to a gas station. Probably.
The crowd at Easter Mass is rivalled only by the crowd at Christmas Mass, so being late would normally be a disaster. Fortunately, we got a seat. Maybe it was because of the rain. The Sunday school teacher hands out felt flags that read, “Alleluia!” to wave during the hymns. Now my child has a pointy stick. Luckily there are not many other people within reach.
Juniper waves her stick threateningly at a few well-meaning parishioners, but it isn’t until the Holy Water begins to fly that things really spiral out of control. Most Catholics would agree that getting sprinkled with Holy Water is sort of fun. It’s a blessing, a washing away of sins and sadness, and nothing says Spring like being smacked in the face with cold water. Imagine grown men gleefully whipping water across a twenty-foot pew with a small broom. Then imagine that this is unfamiliar, you are three and a half feet tall and you sat on the aisle. Juniper curls up in a ball on the pew behind Daddy, but somehow still got wet. After all that trauma she spends the rest of mass snuggling Mommy and fighting back tears.
Why do we endure this?
Well, Jesus invites us over to eat and since we love Him we can’t turn down His invitation. Even if our kids prevent us from savouring the meal and embarrass us in front of our church family, Jesus still wants to see us and loves us right where we are. Since He only asks us to do this one thing, to visit with him on Sunday, how can we refuse?
There are a few basic truths of parenting and one of them is that the best way to teach kids is with actions, not words. By showing up to mass, dishevelled and distracted, I’m setting an example for my daughter that God is more important than everything else.
It’s humbling to parent in front of a church full of people because all my mistakes and insecurities are showing. Yet, it’s important for families like ours to be there, since the opportunity to welcome young families at mass is a blessing that allows us all, as members of the Body of Christ, to give and receive His mercy. For example, there is a family with older kids that loves us by sitting with us and cheerfully creating a buffer between my angry child and everyone else. On the other hand, there is the glaring grumpy lady that challenges my resolve to think gentle thoughts and sends me running back to the protection of my Heavenly Father.
Count it all joy!
Count it all joy…when you fall into various temptations,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
James 1:2-3 (WEB)
This is just one season of life and one that will never come again. I plan to joyfully gather all the lessons and precious moments offered to me.
Christ is Risen! Have a joyful Easter! Leave a comment telling me about what you did for Easter.