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.