It seems like just yesterday when our own three children had many questions during their Sunday mornings at Mass: A few I remember more than others: When could they have “the cracker”? (their observation of Eucharist), was that guy Jesus? (no, that’s our priest, honey), and why was everybody being quiet? (they’re praying.) Over time, they learned the rhythm of the Liturgy, how to follow along with the psalm response, how to extend a hand at the sign of peace, and their favorite, blessing themselves with the Holy Water. Over time, our children came to understand that church was God’s house and we are all God’s people.
Not every visit to church was a Hallmark moment, I can assure you! At the risk of sounding irreverent, some weeks may have resembled a scene from The Exorcist, and well-meaning folks looked at us with a mixture of pity and horror. There were weeks when one of us would calm a crying infant in the church vestibule or accompany a potty-training toddler to the church restroom for the umpteenth time, but we just tried to do what we thought was best for our growing family. For anyone who ever had to hand us a pacifier, hot wheels car or sippy cup that fell to the floor and rolled in front of us, I offer you my thanks.
Our baby years are far behind us now, but every time I see a young family with children at Mass, I want to thank them for taking the time and effort to share our common Catholic faith and traditions. It’s much easier to stay at home, so I solute our young families for being courageous and committed to passing along our culture. Let’s keep these traditions alive in our hearts and in our homes so that they may not be lost or forgotten.
Lent is the perfect time to re-commit ourselves to the love of God and the love of others. Praying with our parish community strengthens our resolve to be a Gospel people. Let’s really LIVE Lent this year, friends. And let’s keep welcoming and encouraging our young families, as they are our future church!