Sunday was an interesting day of shuttling around. After picking up Miss S from her sleep over of the previous night, coming home for a quick breakfast, we went to a mid morning mass so that we could take advantage of some summer fun at the ball park. Unfortunately, our timing wasn’t perfect since Miss S was also scheduled to serve mass at noon. So after the mass we all attended, Mr G and I took a rest in the car while Miss S fulfilled her duties (don’t judge too harshly – we were really tired!) and the bigger boys went with Daddy to the baseball game. Miss S, Mr G, and I joined them later in the afternoon. After a fun (and winning!) game, we came home for baths, simple dinner, and a cool, breezy evening with stories and bedtime.
Sometimes when I am sitting through Mass I am struck how time can morph and change depending on the week and the state of consciousness I am in. Some weeks the mass seems interminable and sometimes it is over before I realize it. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages. But I think that my favorite experience is when time seems to shift and change throughout the single mass itself and I find myself noticing a variety of things in addition to what is going on with the service. This week was one of those lucky weeks. I found the homily this week to be quiet good. Clear, concise, relevent, entertaining, and accessible to a wide variety of people. But aside from the homily, I was also noticing the people in the church and how they seemed to be connecting to the experience (or not). During the homily, one of the things the Father was talking about is why we go to Mass. It was interesting and I found myself thinking about why I go but more importantly, why my children might think we go. Let me say at this point that this train of thought can be applied to any practice of religion. It is just my experience in the Catholic Church that happens to be in discussion here because that is where I feel at home.
I am watching my children grow with a set of values and an experience of ritual and (I hope) comfort. The normalcy of what we do as catholics is being woven into their very beings. This is true of any regular religious experience that involves recurrent rituals. I sometimes wonder if I am skewing their sense of perspective in a negative way but then I remind myself that we all have a sense of perspective, it just varies what it is and I think that this one I am providing stands a good chance at creating happy, healthy, wholesome adults someday.
So there I was standing with a squirmy, tired baby in my arms and feeling a sense of connection with the people who choose to show up to this place every week and try to make a connection to their Creator and their fellow human creatures. I was enjoying singing the responses to the prayers and I noticed something that I found beautiful. Mr G seemed to be enjoying my singing. Mind you, I have no great voice. I was in Chamber Choir in high school but not because I was so good, simply because I enjoyed it and could at least carry a tune. Nevertheless, I do enjoy singing in church with my family. I had to hold Little G very close to me to get him to behave and as I sang the prayers, especially the Great Amen, and I discovered him pushing his little head into me as though he was attempting to feel the vibrations of the song. I imagine that it feels good to hear and feel the voice of your dear mother when you are so small and dependant. It also impressed upon me the reality of what I am creating. I am molding the very earliest memories, thoughts, and feelings of all these small people. That might sound silly to be recognizing this now, and indeed I have had this thought before, but it is fun to see how even with baby number five I can still be awed by the incredible, mundane, and magical experience of motherhood. While my littlest baby was absorbing my response to our religious tradition he is absorbing the gift of reverence and privilege of beauty for the sake of our souls satisfaction. What a gift!
Of course as we reach adulthood, and indeed as we travel through our lives, we must apply our Church’s teaching to the world around us and our own experiences. This will very likely bring difficulty, frustration, and discord at many times. However, I find many redeeming qualities to regular religious practice. In a time and place where ideology and fundamentalism is increasingly violent and troublesome, I hope that we can find some peace and beauty in our religious experiences. We all come from the same Spark of Life and we must learn to live in love with each other. What choices do you make with your spiritual practices to bring peace and love to the world? Share with us since we can all use as many ideas as possible! And embrace those you love a little tighter. 🙂
Peace and health,