I will be honest. Those two words have been known to strike fear in my heart. That might sound odd, but I'm sure that any mother with one or more small children can relate. Daily Mass is another thing that I struggle with for a variety of reasons. The first is the distance we have to drive just to get there. We are about 25 minutes from seven Catholic churches, but nothing is closer. The times range from 7:00 am to 8:30 am. Not bad, but factor in the 1/2 hour drive there and back and now Mass becomes an event. The 7:00 mass comes in handy when my husband and I can go by ourselves, but our children aren't that great at getting up at 6:15 to throw their clothes on and jump in the car. The one benefit to Mass that early is that most of them are still somewhat comatose, so by the time Mass is over, they are just starting to wake up and get lively.
The other reason I struggle with daily Mass is the number and ages of my children. You never know just who it is who is going to be the culprit of the day. It can be anyone from the nine year old on down. The worst is when they decide to gang up on me and all act up. For example, we got to Mass this morning (late, of course) and the only pew we would reasonably fit in was up in front. So we file in (all eight of us) and stand for the Gospel. At this point, my four year old informs me she must go to the bathroom. The nine year old agrees to take her, so they climb out of the pew and go to the back of the church. Within a few minutes, the nine year old is coming back to tell me that I am needed. Of course I cannot go back by myself or I would hear the almost three year old yelling the entire time, "I want to go by Mommy" so I figure it is best to take him with me. So the two of us climb out of the pew and go to the back of the church. We take care of business and the three of us come back to the pew. To save more climbing, we sit on the end. My nine year old informs me that she still has to go to the bathroom so she goes to the back of the church and eventually comes back. Now, because I am sitting at the opposite end of the pew from where I started, my seven year old feels the need to crawl along the pew to get down by me. By this time it is time for the consecration and I have to remind myself where I am and what on earth I am here for. I'm certain I didn't drive all this way just to use the bathroom!! I can be thankful that today we made it through the consecration and communion without incident. Many times I feel that I go to Mass just for my daily dose of humiliation. It is a good way to keep my pride in check :)
This was by no means my worst experience at church; there have been times where I am holding back the tears on my way up to communion. I have heard other horror stories from friends, too. So, I often wonder, is going through all of that really worth anything. I know I have read and heard before how important it is to be recollected on your way to receive Jesus and how we should spend those moments after communion, when Jesus is residing in us, in quiet prayer. Hey, I'm grateful when we get up to communion without anyone pushing or punching a sibling, or almost knocking an elderly person over on their way back to the pew to get the end seat. I try really hard to take that split second before I receive the Eucharist to remind myself what is about to happen before I have to turn the radar back on.
I guess I am very grateful that we have a merciful and loving God. My only hope is that He understands that I am really trying to pay attention and stay recollected during Mass. People have told me that getting to Mass every day is the best thing you can possibly do. I once talked to a priest who told me that of course we should be getting to daily Mass. Since we homeschool and I set the schedule then we should use that driving time to do schoolwork, say our daily prayers, read about the saints, etc. Well, we try, but some days I just don't have it in me! We have a Lutheran church about 1 mile from us, so we and our homeschooling neighbors keep praying they'll all convert to the Catholic faith and then we'd have a church right in our backyard! I do know that, despite all of the work and frustration, the grace we receive from attending Daily Mass is what makes it possible to keep on doing all that we do. I also read somewhere that when you go to Mass and have an experience like I did today, it is your gift to God, but when you go to Mass and walk out in peace, it is God's gift to you.