I have three little kids, and they have a lot of energy. Not a single one of them is the kind of toddler or preschooler who is happy sitting quietly beside their parent for an hour or more while they attend Mass. (But really, do those kids even exist?!)
That means that every Sunday morning and prior to our weekly trips to daily Mass, I feel a little nervous. There’s the anticipation of worshipping God and receiving the Holy Eucharist mixed with a little dash of dread at the potential disaster of my children’s behavior. An hour later we emerge from Mass feeling somewhere on a scale from “that-actually-wasn’t-so-bad” to “maybe-we-should-switch-parishes-because-I-am-mortified”.
So why do I put myself through this multiple times a week? I ask myself this question often. Our society would tell me to not bother, to just stop going and wait until my kids are older and more capable of sitting quietly and not throwing their shoes or running into the aisles or yelling “IS IT TIME TO GO YET?” But we Catholics know better than that.
First, Mass isn’t “pointless” if I’m not spending the whole time in quiet and reverent contemplation. It’s not a waste of our time. Even if it doesn’t go the way we hoped, Mass is the best possible use of our time. And even if our focus is turned to a child who needs to use the potty, God knows we are there for love of Him.
Second, I’m teaching my kids a very important lesson. We don’t skip Mass because going would be hard or inconvenient. We go to Mass no matter where we are or what’s going on, because Mass is the number one priority. Nothing else in our life takes precedence over the worship of God and the sacrifice of the Holy Mass—not vacations, not a football game, and not because we have young, energetic children.
Third, God wants to see my family! “Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these’” (Matthew 19:14). Yes, Jesus wants to see your children even if they’re squirmy and noisy. And even if someone at Mass is less than welcoming to your rambunctious family (though I hope that’s not the case), never forget that God wants them to be there.
If you spend an hour every Sunday sweating and quietly praying that your kids will sit down and listen, you are in good company. I know what it’s like to wonder why every other child is sitting nicely and yours are not (trust me, it’s all in your head!). I just want to encourage you to keep on fighting the good fight and showing up for Mass every single week no matter how tough it might be sometimes. Never stop bringing your kids to Mass and never stop praying for them!
God sees your effort and smiles down on your precious little children, worshipping Him loudly and joyfully. And next time you see someone wrangling a particularly lively child at church, say a prayer that God blesses them with the graces they need to be patient and steadfast in their vocation to get that beautiful little soul to heaven.
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)