"In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose
of the One who accomplishes all things
according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ."
We actually went to Mass twice today. The first time we had a disheartening experience with a woman and a rude comment she made about my noisy baby, and which lead to me walking out to nurse him and cry a little downstairs, so I ended up missing communion. (Although, I came back up after Mass had ended to find my knight-in-shining-armor husband talking to her about how that was pretty rude and that sort of talk drives people out of the church... #marriagegoals #hesakeeper)
But instead of letting it ruin my day I decided to go to Mass again after Lily got out of school. It started snowing and we visited a new church with a friend and, though it was also noisy, it was beautiful.
He calls us to bring our children to Him, He asks us to open ourselves up to the pain the world might bring but to shine His light anyway.
Say yes anyway.
On this feast when we celebrate our Mama Mary, it felt so fitting to be criticized by someone I didn't even know and who didn't know me either. Being close to my noisy toddler was unbearable for her and she felt the need to disrupt the Holy Mass to make sure I knew it. And that hurt. But in this pain, I'm not alone. Mary undoubtedly faced criticism during her unexpected and unexplainable pregnancy and I'm sure it only got worse as her son grew and began to preform miracles and became such a radical figure that people felt the need to crucify him.
He was the unruliest one of all. And for that, they put him to death.
Mary faced more than just one rude comment from one person.
She faced an entire community rising up against her son.
Yet she still said yes, and she said it everyday.
She learned to navigate her daily life with a squirmy and loud baby boy. She held Him in her arms just like I did today with Augustine. Though I am imperfect, I think about these things and suddenly she doesn't feel so far away from me.
She chose to say "yes" to God regardless of what anyone else might have said or thought or done. She understood that the call from God meant infinitely more than the opinions or comfort or whatever of others.
So today, I said yes to the call of my Lord to the feast of His Eucharist, and I led my little children - however silly or noisy they were being - to His love.
They are loved by Love Himself.
they are the littlest of Catholics but still Catholics nonetheless and this is their church as much as anyone's.
They have been created with a great purpose and their value in God's eyes has nothing to do with how still they sit or how quiet they can be. I think of how Mary's parents must have known how special her role in God's plan was, and while my children won't have to follow the same path as Mary, their lives and the way I raise them are important.
I will do my part to teach them to attend Mass quietly and reverently, but children are not born perfect and manageable. At least mine aren't. (*Also this is what I get for naming him Augustine but he just might end up a bishop after all of this...)
And so I bring them to the Mass and I teach them throughout each part of the liturgy.
Watch what he's doing, Lily, he's getting communion ready for us. It's almost time for your blessing, I whisper and her eyes are so wide and her smile is so big. "My blessing," she radiates such innocent anticipation.
The way children are treated at church will largely determine their attitude when they are older. I thank God that Lily wasn't there this morning to hear such a hurtful and insensitive comment right in the middle of the sweetest sacrifice of the Mass, and I pray she will never have to. If we tell our children to sit down and shut up because Mass is just for grown-ups, they are going to disengage and give up and guess what? They are going to leave the church.
That is the opposite of my goal.
And so we are here, struggling to stay in our pews and praying desperately to make it through the Mass and feeling incredibly grateful for these precious little children our Lord has given us. We are grateful that He has given us the choice to say yes. We are grateful that we have such a beautiful example of obedience to The Father in Christ and in Mary.
And if, even after all of this, you are still annoyed by my kids (whom strangers at grocery stores apparently adore but members of my own parish apparently can't stand) then I'll leave it to you to offer it up. ;)
Pray for us, and I'll pray for you, too.