Ash Wednesday

Little Things that Mean Much

It’s funny how things change as time goes on. When the teens were little, running errands or going to church were major productions – they’d get tired, or bored, or hungry. I’d be dragging them around doing errands thinking that it would be so easy if I could just run in and run out. In church, I would think that it would be nice to occasionally be able to really concentrate and listen.

Now, errands are much easier. I usually do them on the way back from teaching aerobics, and I don’t have to drag anyone anywhere. Today, though, we had errands that everyone had to do – bank deposits for the older children, and my older son had to renew his learner’s permit. We picked up a pizza on the way home (part of our Mardi Gras), and it was so nice to have everyone with me doing errands. I wouldn’t have felt that way ten years ago.

For all but two of the last eighteen years, I’ve had a child (or two) six years old or less. Church has been challenging for much of that time. But, for the last half year, I’ve been going to church and sitting by myself for most of that time. Now, I absolutely love having anyone come with me to church, distracting or not!

Last weekend, I dragged everyone to Mass (the first time we’d all been at church together since Christmas). One of the things I love about this church is that they have a special time before Mass where people stand up and share good news – birthdays, anniversaries, job promotions, special trips, grown children visiting, or whatever really means something to them. Another thing that I really like is that during the Prayers of the Faithful, after the regular prayers, there is a time where anyone can offer up a prayer, and we join with them in praying for their concern.   

A few weeks ago, one of the members was named Provost of the University, and a friend of hers told the congregation. Later, while doing one of the readings, the new Provost made a mistake and said “campus” instead of “camp” during the reading. Everyone smiled. Anyway, last weekend, I stood up and mentioned our good news-ful month – children’s birthdays, our anniversary, and our older son finding out (on his birthday) that he’s a National Merit Finalist.

To help keep my seven year old busy in church the last few years, I bought a special Lego book – only to be read during church, never at home. He actually volunteered to come to church two weeks ago so that he could read it. It was nice to have him there to snuggle up next to me – even if he kept asking me about things in his book during the sermon. I didn’t mind.

He’s also at the age to learn, and has gotten interested in learning, about what goes on at church. So, I’ve been telling him about the various parts of the Mass or the service – standing during the reading of the gospel, holding hands (at the Catholic church) during the Lord’s Prayer. He’s still a bit shy about shaking hands at the sign of peace, but he said he wants to try again the next time he goes.

Father C. preached an excellent homily that day...

(Homily? Or sermon? Switching back and forth between churches gets confusing, and we start combining the words. Hominym? Sermily? That sounds like something you have to clean, “I’m going to get some bleach and wash the sermily out of the bottom of the shower.”)

...Our younger son has listened to the sermons, or homilies, for a while now (and makes comments to me) even when it seems that he’s intently focusing on the Lego book. At one point during Father C.’s homily, Father C. said that teenagers get “weary of their parents.” Younger son put his head on my arm, snuggled up to me and said, “Mommy, I never get weary of you!” Actually, the older two said much the same thing later (without the snuggly part). I’m very blessed!

Father C. also often takes a verse from one of the readings and repeats it in his homily – building the homily and ideas from all the readings around that verse. This time, the verse was “God is not both yes and no.” By the last repetition, near the end of the homily, younger son looked up at me and whispered, “Mommy, he said that already. A couple of times!”

After going to Masses by myself, it was wonderful to have everyone there - someone to smile at when something funny was said in the homily, or being able to discuss the homily afterwards without my having to explain the whole thing from the start (part of our usual Sunday, lunchtime conversation).  And just being there with everyone - something I used to take for granted.




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