We can become too comfortable with routine and rituals. Sometimes we just go through the journey of each day without rigor or purpose.
Another day ends and sometimes we can’t even describe something positive or unique that happened to separate that day from others. If anything, we will remember something negative.
The same can be said for our faith journey when we attend Mass each weekend. It’s part of who we are as Catholics to fulfill our obligation to celebrate Mass, but are we really there in mind and body?
I have seen a few bumper stickers that suggest thinking about God while fishing is better than sitting in church thinking about fishing. As catchy and humorous as it sounds, it’s also a bit sad to view celebrating Mass as something where we are there in body and not mind. We need both.
Sounds like we need a faith refueling.
One of the easiest and effective ways to fill that tank is to attend a children’s Mass at a Catholic school. There are 99 elementary schools and 14 high schools in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee; one is near you.
Call the school or parish office and ask what day and time the children’s Mass will be celebrated and make the effort to go. This is what you will see:
■ You will see a kindergarten girl walk behind the ambo and after a moment, you will see her head pop up to the microphone after she moves the step stool. A huge smile will engulf her face and she will read a petition, followed by “wet us pway to Lord…”
■ You will smell a combination of wet puppies and holy oils as the church is filled with students. nYou will see a second grader proceed to wipe his nose on his sleeve before reading the first reading.
■ You will see a sixth grader bow with reverence before reading the introduction. You will witness an eighth grader genuflect and make the sign of the cross with lightning speed but still without reservation.
■ You will hear the high school choir sing with heart and passion or the third grade choir sing, “take the word of God with you as you goooooo,” in a half yelling, half singing yet always heard voice.
■ You will hear a homily translated to the level of children’s understanding and will probably get more out of it than you normally would. Although the kids may not quite realize it, Jesus is present in each and every one of them.
It’s the Holy Spirit calling you to feel the presence of God in your heart as well.
There’s something about a child participating in Mass that gives us that refueling we need. Regardless of age, the innocence of a child’ s participation in Mass pulls at that youth in us and fills our hearts with a feeling of unconditional happiness. It’s a very hard feeling to describe, but it’s very overwhelming and can bring you to tears.
Actually, it’s God bringing you to tears because it confirms you really needed this refueling.
You will walk out of Mass with a smile, not out of “how cute were those kids” but because your faith has been abstractly retouched with the messy finger of a child speaking on behalf of the ultimate Teacher.
Perhaps you don’ t even realize your faith tank is nearing empty. But if there is an unfulfilled feeling you get when you leave church, maybe this is a sign God is talking to you. He conveniently calls us to go to a weekend Mass celebrated with parish youth if a weekday Mass is not possible.
God talks to us just like our car does when a “distance to empty” light comes on. How far are you from empty? The nearest gas station is at a Catholic school or parish near you.
(Campbell, a mother of three, is a teacher at Waukesha Catholic School, Waukesha.)