Another Duty Station, Another Failed Mass

When we lived in Hawaii, my son and I were multiple-times-a-week Mass attendees.  It was a nice, calming habit we got accustomed to, and I noticed my son would sit on Sundays through Mass with no difficulty.

We then moved to Virginia, where we were unceremoniously welcomed by the priest (read: asked to leave Mass three words into his Sunday homily).  We stopped attending Mass outside of the obligatory Sunday after that happened.

As we have worked on settling in to this new duty location, again ensconced safely in the bosom of active duty military chaplains, I decided to take time this week to attempt a daily Mass.

We went today.

I learned during my time in Northern Virginia that, when my preschooler says he doesn’t want to go to church, I need to brace myself.  Silly me forgot that little lesson, and I was not prepared!

Sure, he wasn’t as loud, and he didn’t run away from me the way he had two years ago.  Instead, he was enjoying banging the kneelers, and loudly whispered protestations of having been forced to go to church.  Thankfully, Auntie M was able to hold E while I wound up with a vice-like grip around M’s middle section to stop him from squirming, wiggling, and banging kneelers.

Like two years ago, the Mass bag did nothing to entice good behavior.  Redirections to other parts of the chapel (i.e. stained glass windows, Holy water, etc.) did not help.  Even the bells, when rung at the Consecration wielded no power – instead, as he clasped his hands over his ears, he insisted loudly the bells were, “too loud.”

Part of me wondered if the chaplain skipped the homily entirely because he saw the ruckus being created in the back of the chapel, and didn’t want to keep all of the other faithful attendees any moment longer with the apparent power struggle in the back of the chapel.

I was mortified.

I am still mortified.  

My son was the most eager little toddler to approach the steps of the church when he lived in Hawaii.  It was a home away from home for him.  He would toddle up to the altar and wave, and blow kisses, to Jesus during Adoration.  He learned to do a toddler-version of the Sign of the Cross.  I felt so hopeful he would grow up loving God, loving Jesus, and loving his Catholic Christian faith.

I want to continue taking him to daily Mass, but at what cost?  I don’t want him to begin to loathe church.  I don’t want him to distract others from their prayers.  I would like to be able to listen to the readings and the homily.

I need to go back to the drawing board, trouble-shoot what went wrong, figure out different incentives, and try again another day.

Because today, I am at a loss.  I feel defeated.

And, I suspect that is exactly the way the devil wants me to feel.



12 thoughts on “Another Duty Station, Another Failed Mass

  1. My 3 year old had a rough day too. We were at the hospital. It was power struggles. I hope you can continue daily mass whenever you can. Prayers for you all. I know what a blessing daily mass is, especially for moms.

  2. Don’t give up, ever.
    Things that popped to my mind – talk to his Guardian Angel, patron Saints, a Saint of children perhaps and ask they entertain him during mass, help on this journey. A dear friend of mine would always remind me to ask Mary to hold her children. And as mom you can’t go wrong with Mother Mary and St Monica on your side.
    Keep going. Keep going. Keep going!!!!

  3. You are doing just fine. My three and five year old have issues in Mass all the time. They are kids, and remember we are all still practicing…

  4. You are not alone; our assignment in Northern Virginia (the diocese of Arlington) was a difficult location for us, too. It took us several months of parish-hopping before we settled on a parish and, even after three years there, we still felt like outsiders. We did have a circle of friends, but it was a small circle.
    A wise Priest once told us, after we had apologized for our child’s obnoxious behavior during Mass, “do not worry about your children. When people get together in their homes, they accept that the children will play and be loud. It is the same in God’s House. Your and all children are welcome and should be welcomed. They are our future.” It really moved my wife and me, and now that we’re older, we think about that line when we hear kids fussing in the pews.

    1. I will say NoVA was my hardest place to live, by far. But, I also recognize it was tainted by significant culture shock from Hawaii, and the first 9 months were sans husband for his deployment.

      God Bless that priest!! Thank you so very much for sharing that phrase! I tend to agree with it, and just pray those around us also understand.

  5. New church for you, new church for him, new pews, new priest, new prayers, new, new new. He’ll get there. Maybe introduce him to your priest. Let him walk around after Mass to “feel” his new church. Let him see which pew his bum feels most comfortable. Train him to serve???!!!

  6. Are there any opportunities for catechesis of the good shepherd in your area? Or do you think you have the resources to put something together at home? Even if you don’t do a formal program, playing Mass at home helps my little boy be more interested when we go to church. If he gets in that kind of mood, though, we just leave. I tell him, “You were not ready to be with Jesus at Mass today. We will try again another day.”

    If this keeps being a problem, you might try intentionally going only to a part of Mass every time until he’s happily able to do that and gradually increasing. The end is more interesting than the beginning, but harder to get the right timing, and a little distracting when you come in.

    1. I may be able to put something together – I am horrible about being creative.

      I LOVE the ideas you gave me to think about regarding playing Mass, and maybe gradually increasing the time we stay at Mass!

      Thank you!

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