AnneMarie Miller discusses the importance of making Mass a priority.
I stood in the pew, my baby girl in my arms and my two young boys crawling and wrestling at my feet. I can’t do this anymore, I thought to myself. Daily Mass, that small break from the chaos of the day, would have to go. Clearly, my kids couldn’t handle it — and neither could I. Yet, as frustration and sadness began to rise within me, a memory popped into my mind, of something a wonderful priest and friend had said on a retreat several days beforehand:
“The Mass is the most important thing we do. Period.”
This phrase began to loop in my mind as I continued to stand, sit, pray, during that daily Mass. It rang through my heart as I walked out of the church that day, the Eucharist in my body. It continued to resound in my thoughts as, the next week, I piled the kids in the minivan to attend daily Mass again ... and the week after that. Some days were hard, and some were easy. Regardless of how deeply I was able to meditate on the Scripture that was proclaimed, participating at Mass — in the presence of Christ, praying with the whole Church — was a great gift. Even on the days when it felt like I was failing at life, I was reassured by this gift of the Liturgy. There may have been piles of toys adorning our living room floor (for the third day in a row), but at least we were giving God our time as we offered prayers and sacrifices to participate in Mass.
The new liturgical year begins with Advent, and around this time, many people look for ways to more fully embrace “liturgical living.” I’ve combed through books and articles, cookbooks and videos, and I’ve put together my own lists of activities, too: ways that will make the Faith come alive for my family.
Yet sometimes, we focus so much on activities and foods for “liturgical living” that the Liturgy gets left behind.
We attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, but that may be the extent of our liturgical prayer. We might be “too busy,” have few local options, or feel overwhelmed by the thought of taking our young children to an additional Mass each week. We’ll go when the kids are older. We’ll figure it out when life calms down. We’re just too busy. These are some of the excuses that have run through my own mind, particularly when I’m wrangling my three young kids in the pew or seeing how my calendar rapidly fills.
Though it can be hard to attend Mass with young children, all of the coloring sheets, saint videos, and picture books cannot compare to the value of participating in the Liturgy.
Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, notes:
Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.
The Liturgy, the Mass, is the most important thing we do.
Next month, I’ll be discussing some practical considerations for doing this with young kids. In the meantime, let’s ask ourselves: How can we make the Liturgy a priority in our lives in the year ahead?
Copyright 2021 AnneMarie Miller
Images copyright 2015, 2019 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved.
About the Author
A bibliophile, wife, mother of young children, and lover of the Liturgy, AnneMarie Miller enjoys exploring the manifold—and quirky—ways in which God speaks. She can often be found reading books to her kids, burrowing her toes in the red Oklahoma dirt, or sipping black coffee. Her reflections on Catholicism, literature, and hope can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.