Why this blog? Why Me? Why now?

Recently, after a series of particularly stressful events, I had a day that was full of tiny moments that all seemed designed to push me towards God. As I've never been a regular churchgoer and certainly not a believer, this came as a bit of a shock. I have never felt that I was missing anything, but it was too strong of a feeling to ignore. It is possible that in a month or week or day that the compulsion will pass. It is also possible that it will not.

I started this blog to document the process. I am starting from scratch, more or less, so please forgive me if I get some fact about your church or your faith wrong. I'm a work in progress.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The difficulty of going to Mass

As a family we've been to Mass three Sundays in a row now. It's become important to both my husband and myself that we make the effort to go every week. I see him embracing the church in ways he hasn't since in 14 years, since before I met him. We've talked about calling to see if there is a welcome wagon (if you will), and to find out about Baptism for our two younger kids. He is planning to go to confession before Lent. 

Since I'm not Catholic I feel a bit weird adapting some of the ritual and practices that he does, but I also feel weird abstaining. If he wants to say grace at dinner, and I think we should, shouldn't I be learning it as well? If he gives something up for Lent, I'd like to do it as well. Do I cross myself in church or is that reserved for those who are full Catholics? Do I genuflect as I enter the pew? I dug my copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Catholicism out of the garage (a process that led me to take a nap afterwards, true story) and will be looking through it for answers, but would welcome input from the peanut gallery.

The other hard part of Mass for us are the kids.  Understandably, this is all new and hard for them. They aren't used to sitting quietly for any length of time. My 6 year old is mostly ok, but the two younger ones (3 and 18 months) are unimpressed.  I feel like we're spending the whole hour herding cats.  There's no sense of sitting there gaining anything spiritual from the process, and since we haven't managed to find out about other services we aren't yet gaining community from the process.  Because of our work schedules, we've been at three different services (10am, 7pm, 8am).  It seems likely that the 8am Sunday service is the one we'll settle on, as it will rarely cause a work conflict.  I took a couple little soft toys in a bag for the baby today, and pens and paper for the boys, but I don't know if that's acceptable or not.*

Regardless of all this, the bloom has not worn off the rose and I still believe that going to church is the right thing to do. I want the routine and the weekly touchpoint of going. I'd love to feel a sense of renewal and fresh beginnings every week, and I suspect that going to church would come to do that for me. I'm not ready to proclaim myself Born Again, or even a true Believer, but I am comforted by the idea of becoming one.

*Another true story, once when I was about 12 and my brothers were maybe 4 and 6, they slithered up from our pew (3/4 of the way back) alllll the way to the front of the church, on their bellies. They removed a few shoes on their way through. They popped up at the front of the church, laughed at their victory, and proudly marched back down the center aisle to our family's pew. My kids aren't that obvious. Yet.


  1. 1. Crossing yourself is, as I understand it, a prayer saying that you believe in the Trinity. I don't think it's reserved just for Catholics. In fact, I think Anglicans do it too. If you're moved to declare your belief in the Holy Trinity by making the Sign of the Cross, do it.

    2. Genuflecting when you enter a pew means that you're acknowledging the Real Presence of Christ in the Tabernacle. Again, I don't think this is limited to Catholics in the same way receiving the Eucharist is, but if your relationship with the nature of the Eucharist is still fuzzy, I'd say skip it. Otherwise, you genuflecting would be saying something with your body that your heart doesn't believe.

    3. "Herding cats", a.k.a. the Liturgical Rodeo. Yikes. You have the sympathy and understanding of every church going parent ever. I tell Ken all the time that I'm sure I've used up more graces by the end of Mass than I received. We struggle with it every week. In fact, I just wrote a little bit about it on today's post. Just remember that 9 times out of 10, the parents perceive the behavior to be much louder/worse/distracting than anyone else in the Church.

    1. Thanks Cari, you're a real asset for me during this! I think I'll read up on those two things in my book as well, since I went to the effort to dig it out and all!

      The kids! I tell Mike that no one else is as annoyed by them as we are, but still. It's exhausting.

  2. Yeah, I agree, I never would cross myself, nor would I kneel, though I would have liked to. (Speaking as a Jew who went ot Mass every Sunday for several years with my ex and his sons.) I felt like that was reserved for people who had performed the first couple sacraments.

    As for herding cats, isn't there some kind of kids' sermon or sunday school during mass? What are all the other kids doing? We used to give the kids a phone to play with during mass just to keep them quiet, figuring if they were happy, they'd eventually look up and see we were enjoying this thing, and take it in by osmosis and later show some interest. It worked to a point.

    1. So far as I can tell, everyone brings their kids to Mass. We're supposed to meet with the priest next week so we'll verify then. I can't tell what the other kids do, really. They don't look as squirmy as mine.