RINGING CHILDREN TO MASS DOES make a huge difference in how you experience the Eternal Sacrifice. We might get stuck comparing the before and after – or maybe the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
Once I heard a homily recommending listeners to close their eyes to pray and realized that with a few small children under my care I could not close my eyes to pray. This doesn’t mean I am not praying, but in a public place with little ones I need to have part of my mind keeping watch. In some ways this involuntary and necessary distraction can help crowd out other more subtle distractions though it may not feel this way at the time.
Worse than comparing your pre-child life to the present, there is comparing your family with other families. You may have the sinking feeling that you are doing something wrong. You look at the family with seven children all staying in the pew quietly and wonder why your two or three can’t manage to keep their voices down.
But now, fifth time around, I see that bringing a few very young children is very different to a large family with some well established older children. A one year old attending Mass surrounded by a herd of siblings often has a lot more peer pressure to conform, and many more little games to play unobtrusively interacting with different family members.
Whenever you are struggling you can know you are not alone. It is worthwhile.
I found it comforting to read in St Therese of Lisieux’s Story of a Soul that she was left behind for Sunday Mass as she was too young. She fondly remembers looking forward to her sisters coming home with the blessed bread – a sacramental, not the Blessed Sacrament.
And now I go to check the reference I find an article I wrote a few years back Does Music keep kids quiet at Mass?.
The photo up the top there is blurry, but I’m pretty sure those two little boys who kept me busy in the narthex and courtyard at Maternal Heart are now an accomplished altar boy and a good choir member respectively.