Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The Doors are Open!
We had a busy Sunday at St Francis de Sales this last weekend. Families are getting ready to celebrate First Communions. We had four children baptized at Mass. We had great music, lots of life, a bit of noise...(one little one who really could hit those high notes! Perhaps a future choir member?) and in general all the stuff that is full of life! Sunshine, smiles, conversation, questions...it was all good. I am grateful.
After reading an article this morning about church and children I find myself thinking again of how different our experience of church is when you sit with a youngster, toddler or baby...or even a teen.
If I am by myself at church, that is, if I come 'solo' without any family members, I have the luxury of sitting where I want, singing as loudly as I want, pondering freely where Scripture and the words of our liturgy and the homily take me. Chances are my soul is nourished and refreshed by the closing song.
Every now and then in the last twenty years or so, I've been blessed to attend Mass with my nieces and nephew. I came to learn quickly, when they were small, how different church is when you come with a two year old! A pause here to commend every parent who comes to church with your toddler and tries to both pray AND keep them occupied! I can recall being at the 'month's mind mass' for my dad years ago, and my 2 year old niece, deciding, right after we all sang the memorial acclamation, that the song shouldn't be done yet, so in her little soprano voice, as we all were kneeling quietly she piped up with something like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My mom was horrified, I was hysterical...I thought she was so cute and so funny...and no surprise, she turned out to be a great singer! But what I realized in that semi embarrassing moment was, she somehow, on a two year old level, understood that music was an important part of this celebration.
So many times, when I am at mass with children, the young and the not so young, I find myself compelled to explain to them what is going on...because I want them to appreciate and love the liturgy like I do! Seeing the liturgy through the eyes of a young person is another whole way to pray! If I have to explain the homily to a 7 year old, I'd better be paying close attention, so I can translate. If I'm showing my little one the stations of the cross or the stained glass windows, I am telling them in a most colorful way, the stories of Jesus. We should be singing together, following the readings and prayers together, because how else am I going to pass on my faith to the next generation? It's certainly not the same prayer as when I come by myself, but it is beautiful in a whole different way.
So, if you are lucky enough to come to church with little ones, enjoy it! Celebrate well! Show them what we're doing! Teach them to sing along! If you need to walk around with them at the entrance way, feel free! It's summer so the doors are wide open, you can still hear what's going on and they can explore their church home. If they get too antsy or too loud for comfort...the steps are a great way for them to burn off energy...just know, the doors are always open to you and your little ones!