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Love this photo, saw it on my Flickr group "Our Catholic Walk"
The Catholic Church encourages parents to take their children from a young age to Mass. I've heard lots of squabbles about this like "what are you really getting out of Mass when all your attention is towards your child and making sure they are behaving", "they're too young to understand anything anyway", "it's rude to disturb others who are trying to listen at Mass". But the people that have these squabbles don't understand that our children can learn from a very young age about contrition, petition, offering, and thanksgiving - the Mass contains these 4 principles. Also I love how Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary explains in her blog posts "The long thank-you" and "When church isn't fun" that our children can also learn and observe from a very young age the holy sacrifice of the Mass. She writes:
" I talked to my son about what Jesus has done for us, and pointed out that one of the many reasons we go to Mass is simply to say “thank you.” And when you’re giving thanks for something enormous and undeserved, it takes a while — and how you feel about it is irrelevant."
"Church that day was more about survival than enjoyment, with 100% of my brain power and emotional energy going to wishing that straight jackets came in sizes 2 and 3T. I wasn’t able to even hear the Word, let alone think about it, and any deep contemplation of the Resurrection was out of the question. And yet when the priest placed the Eucharist on my tongue, I received Jesus Christ himself — who is the Word and who is the Resurrection."
Such strong points and validations. We've brought Madeline and James to Mass since they were newborns. Yes and there were probably a few times where I wished they made straight jackets in sizes 2 and 3T. :) But for the most part they are pretty well behaved at Mass. They stay quiet, day dream, people watch, flip through the missalette. Madeline is good about standing and kneeling at the appropriate times. She also participates in making the sign of the cross, saying the Lord's prayer, and shaking hands with others while giving peace. James, we're still working on but he's only 4 and still very weary of strangers. They both always go up with us when we receive the Eucharist and receive a blessing from Father. But do they ever listen to what's being said at Mass? This past Sunday confirmed that they do!
Our first reading was Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.
Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
they sent them Peter and John,
who went down and prayed for them,
that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
for it had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
and they received the Holy Spirit.
It was funny because both Stephen and I had our thoughts confirmed after we heard this reading that the Early Christian Church was so very Catholic. Father Kirby gave an awesome homily on our readings that Mass. He told us this story of a man interviewing someone famous (I can't recall who) and asking him what is the most evil word in the English language. I was surprised when he said the man answered "exclusive". Father Kirby went on to explain that to us Americans, exclusive usually comes across as something positive. Like belonging to an exclusive golf club, or having an exclusive membership. It's nice to belong to these exclusive clubs right? But if you think about it, they are excluding and discriminating those that maybe can't afford to be a member or have the right qualifications/race/gender. Father Kirby explained that when Philip, Peter and John went to Samaria to proclaim Christ to the people there, they weren't being exclusive towards these frowned upon people - they were being inclusive! They showed that Christ includes and invites everyone to be apart of His Church. And so His Apostles and Disciples went..."Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" Matthew 28.19.
Father Kirby ended his homily with another story of 4 young siblings. 3 boys and the youngest being a girl. Now I can't recall word for word but he spoke about signs they each put on their doors with the oldest's saying, "No One Allowed!", the 2nd oldest's saying, "Only Boys Allowed!", the 3rd son saying, "No Girls Allowed!" (his room was next to his lil sister's), and the daughter's saying, "Welcome Everybody!". I glanced over at Madeline when he told this story and I saw her contently listening with a smile on her face. Father Kirby said that is how Christ's Church is...everybody and everyone is welcome. And I believe that is what His Catholic Church has shared with the world - it's evident with it's members on every continent totaling 1.18 billion today.
Well Father Kirby, I wanted to share the sign that our 7 year old daughter made for her bedroom door...
She IS listening in Mass :)