Rachel Bulman shares a lesson she learned from her children about the meaning of home.
“Guess what my favorite day of the week is, Mom?”
All conversations seem to begin with questions these days, and my 8-year-old wasn’t beginning this one any differently.
“Friday because it’s Spirit Day, and Sunday because we get to go to Mass.”
We live in one of the places where public Masses have resumed. I remember being weary when we started going back. We had tried to maintain separation of church and home the first few livestreamed Masses – setting up chairs, putting on “church clothes,” and making the kids sit down and kneel at the appropriate times. But, the familiarity of our space always took over, resulting in wrestling on the couch or meandering out of the room for play or a glass of water or whatever their hearts fancied.
Not too long after we started going back to Mass, I remember a Sunday when the kids were especially rambunctious, and I leaned over to my oldest son and said, “Put your feet down. We aren’t at home!”
I was shocked by those words and immediately thought, “But, we are at home. This should be home.”
And, I learned a new lesson for myself and one that I hope to teach my kids.
Home doesn’t mean a familiarity that reduces decorum. Home means a familiarity that allows authentic freedom. Authentic freedom isn’t found in being able to take off your shoes and have a glass of wine. It means being at peace when you can’t make yourself bodily comfortable or satiate your hunger. It means finding something that surpasses comfort, luxury, and satiation. Home is where we ourselves are found as our truest self.
Now back to the 8-year-old’s question. My 3-year-old mimicked him.
“My favorite day is Sunday because I get to be loved by God.”
Of course, I don’t think the toddler realized the profundity of her words.
“I get to be loved by God.”
The first part of the lesson was that home is where we are our truest self, but the second part of the lesson taught me that we only find home, we only find out who we are, when we are able to be loved by God. Better said, we are found when we allow ourselves to be loved by Divine Love.
Allowing oneself to be loved requires surrender, participation, and reception. You have to surrender the active grasping that we think is required to attain love. We have to participate with a love that is already being given and received in the trinitarian economy. And we have to receive it. Stop grasping for love. Choose to participate with love. Decide to receive love.
The time of being away from the Mass was hard. If the Church had become our home away from home, part of me felt homeless. And, if it is the place where I can truly be loved in a very real and Eucharistic way, then being able to love was diminished without it. We love because He first loved us.
Children always teach us what we once knew.
The Mass and our parish are not just ceremonies and empty buildings. The present us with a heavenly home and the meal that satiates our being.
So if you’re back at Mass, make it more and more your home. And, if you’re not back … if you’re still waiting to be loved through the love of the Mass, then pray for a heart that’s ready to return when the time is right.
After all, Sundays could be your new favorite day, too.
Copyright 2020 Rachel Bulman
Image: Pixabay (2010)
About the Author
Rachel Bulman joined the Catholic Church in 2008. She is a wife, mother, writer, and speaker, but most of all, she is a child of God. She has a weakness for the Eucharist and really good ice cream, obviously not at the same time. Get to know more about Rachel at RachelBulman.com or follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @rachelbulman.