I can still vividly remember my breakdown to Father Peter after mass in December of 2014. My husband was deployed and my son was just at the 1 year mark. He was wiggly, in that “I love to randomly squeal and have no volume control and I’m making mad dashes towards the altar” stage. I was all alone with this kid at mass in this massive, beautiful Cathedral and felt like not only was I getting absolutely nothing out of mass but I was also pretty terrified I was annoying the crap out of everyone near me and ruining their mass experience.
Father Peter gave me the best advice. It’s that hard truth you really don’t want to hear but need to.
“Right now, its not about you. It’s about your vocation as a mother and your love for Christ.”
He went on to basically say that right now, I was showing my child, and everyone around me, that even though making it through mass seems like way more of a burden than a blessing that it is a burden you will gladly bear for Christ AND to show my child that this is a sacrifice always worth making.
That was enough for me to seek out some wisdom of some “good” Catholic moms in the area. You know, the moms with 7 kids who sit front row and all behave like perfect angels? Yeah, those are the moms I asked. They gave me some solid advice, and some of it I’ll list below but I’m also going to mesh it with some things I’ve learned in the 3 years since!
And then after my experience with having to prep for mass a blogger friend of mine, Diana over at Diana Divulges posted this gem: “Hey Mamas, You cannot show up to mass blind!” and I just knew I needed to put my mama wisdom about how I changed my mass outlook down in writing.
Here is your guide to having an awesome mass experience – for everyone in the family. Including yourself.
You MUST prepare, physically, the night before!
Just like anything – a test, childbirth, a big trip – all heck is going to break loose if you don’t prepare. Here are just some of the suggestions I have for physically preparing for mass the night before:
- Pack a back: including everything you, husband and tiny humans will need for mass. This includes cups full of water, diapers, wipes, booger wipes, snacks, coloring book and crayons for the kids as well as our wallets, keys, my mass journal, my veil and filled out check for the offering.
- Set out everyone’s clothes the night before. We live in a 2 story house so for us this means bringing all the clothes downstairs for all the humans so there isn’t any frantic sprinting up and down stairs happening last minute. We set out everything from shirt, pants, socks, shoes, undies, hat, mittens, and winter jacket.
- Prep breakfast (and coffee!!) the night before. Even if that just means knowing what you’re going to feed all the humans. For us it’s usually scrambled eggs or oatmeal. Nothing crazy but we at least figure out what it’s going to be the night before.
Mentally prepare the night before.
- Read the readings for the next day and contemplate them quietly once the kids have gone to sleep. I have this amazing, phenomenal, can’t say enough good things about it Mass Journal from Every Sacred Sunday. It’s pretty, has all the readings for each Sunday as well as holy days and space for notes. I seriously consider it a must have for mamas with wiggly little kids. When you read the readings and contemplate what God is speaking to you through them before, you’re more able to be able to catch something during the homily even with wiggly kids. If you have no clue what the readings were about it’s a lot harder to follow along and a lot more frustrating when you feel like you’re not getting anything out of the scripture presentation!
- Follow Ascension Press on Facebook. Jeff Cavins, a wonderful Catholic speaker who does weekly videos on the Ascension Facebook page that explain the readings and teaches you a bit. The videos are posted on Saturdays and are a great insight to prepare you for mass the next day.
- Say a little prayer that everyone has a grace filled mass experience but also that if it’s isn’t a perfect experience that everyone grows in Christ anyways.
Start the day off right
- Get up before the kids and have a quiet moment. Thank God for Sundays, and coffee, and the fact that no one is asking you to do anything for them just yet.
- Plan to be out the door on time. For thus our rule is travel time + 5 min for each tiny human. So right now we have a 5 minute drive to Church + 2 tiny human’s so we plan to be pulling out of the driveway at least 15 minutes before mass begins. When the twins come that time will bump to 25 min before mass.
- Talk about what kind of awesome behavior you expect during mass. For our almost 2 year old that means quiet voices, staying in the pew, singing, and prayer hands. For our four year old that means following gestures and kneeling and standing and sitting when everyone else does as well as trying to say the responses along with everyone else. For everyone that means no crawling around on the ground or in the pews.
- Talk about the readings in the car on the way – it will help refresh in your mind but also plan the seed for the rest of the family.
Have an awesome mass experience!
- Let them bless themselves and give them a blessing with Holy Water for a great mass.
- Remember to teach them to genuflect towards the tabernacle.
- Try to sit as close to the front as you can. For us, we sit in the very front. I’ve noticed it helps my kids to be less distracted by others but also allows them to be engulfed in what is going on at the altar.
- When it gets rough, ask them questions. I like to call it “I Spy… Mass Version”. Start asking them if they can see the Priest. What color the priest is wearing. How many candles can they find. Where is Mary? Where is Jesus? How many boo boos does Jesus have? How many servers are there? Do you see any birds in the stained glass? You get the idea. It gets them quiet but also gets them engaged in the mass and their surroundings.
- Remember that the MOST important part is that you’re there, present for the miracle of Jesus in the Eucharist. Everything else doesn’t matter when you get to seal that covenant with God!
- Remember – Grace. God gives us grace when we just suck at mom-ing sometimes and sometimes our kids have bad days too. Give them grace, smiles and hugs.
Do you have any other prep tips for mass that have really worked in your family? I would love to hear them! Shoot me an email, comment on this post or shoot me something over on Facebook or Instagram!