First Down (September 30, 2018)

Dear Friends,

Raising our children can be hard work. It takes a lot of energy to watch over them, guide them, teach them and correct them. They can be our greatest joy and at the same time make us feel tired in trying to live our lives by including them. We can see this on Sundays when families strive to bring their children to Mass. The word “Liturgy,” from the Greek means the “people’s work” and it does take work to get to Mass and even more work to bring our children along. Children might motivate us to make sure God is important and at the same time it can be a battle to make it on time or struggle with the feeling is it really all worth it.

At Communion time there is joy for me in blessing the children who come up with family for Communion. They are not ready yet to receive and many of the children expect to be blessed by the priest or Eucharistic Minister. For many of the children I love using these words to let them know they are loved. I say, as I bless them, “I am so glad you’re in God’s house to pray today. Well done.” Sometimes the parents will hear those words and I hope that comforts and inspires them that it really is important and worth it, that they are in God’s house to pray.

I am grateful to those parishioners who remember what it was like to raise their children and bring them to Mass. They can relate to feelings such as, people annoyed with the extra noise from the kids, trying to make sure they are not too much of a distraction for others or not being able to concentrate at Mass or even listen to the homily, (Oh no! ). When other parishioners outwardly support and encourage such families it has a huge impact on our faith community.

For others who might struggle with the extra noise from the kids, and maybe even adults, let’s try to remember that at times one’s ministry at Mass might simply be to be present to those around us. It could be the kind word or gesture. Maybe in conversation you may find out that some encouragement or sharing your similar experiences from the past could be helpful. The Lord will never think you wasted time in not “getting anything out of Mass”. Mass is community worship and many times the focus might need to be on another Body of Christ, His people. To neglect this part is forgetting God’s desire to see Him in others. When we remember He resides in people, even the noisy little ones, then we plant a wonderful seed that parents feel welcomed with the entire family and that parishioners have understanding and patience.

I enjoy seeing the children in God’s house on Sunday, praying and singing to God.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric