Thursday evening we all piled into the car and headed to church. Tim has his middle school youth group meetings on Thursdays and it is always a huge treat when he allows us to join him. It was a “game night” and I was his volunteer so our kids had the privilege of participating in the fun. It was not a holy experience but they had a great time playing capture-the-flag in a large field by the church and hanging out with Tim’s fabulous youth group kids.
Friday was “First Friday” so the kids and I went to Mass in the morning. The homily was thought-provoking and inspiring, and after Mass we were photographed together for a Mother’s Day poster one of the parishioners was putting together. Then we found ourselves back at church that evening for another youth group event. Pizza and a movie-- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Again, it was not exactly a spiritual event but the movie was impressive and the company was great.
Saturday morning we went to Mass once again, this time as a family, to be part of the jubilee celebration of two of the religious sisters from our parish. It was beautiful to see them renew their vows and rejoice in 50 years of serving God as Sisters of St. Clare. The pews were full of priests and religious sisters and I hoped my children could feel the peace and holiness that permeated the church. We came home after Mass and changed our clothes quickly because we had a First Communion party that afternoon. Our good family friends were so kind to include us in the celebration of their son’s special day and seeing his genuine joy at receiving Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time was really wonderful.
Today, of course is Sunday and Mother’s Day and what better way to start the day than at church again? It was even more special than usual today because the May Crowning was this morning and our 8 year old daughter, who will be making her First Holy Communion next Sunday, was chosen to place the wreath of flowers on the statue of Our Blessed Mother. She did a beautiful job crowning Mary and then reading a special Mother’s Day prayer with the other children and our pastor.
Many memories of my own childhood are of time spent at church. I remember running around with my friends during “coffee and doughnuts” and the church festival weekend when we would play games and eat junk food while my parents worked a booth. Of course, I remember sitting in the pews for Mass every Sunday surrounded by family friends and neighbors and watching my parents help out as Extraordinary Ministers of Communion. I remember hearing about my mom’s faith sharing group and the kids in the C.C.D. classes she taught. Our Church, growing up, was our home away from home.
My children are so blessed to have the same experience. They’ve spent so much of their childhood at our church they might consider it their first home and our house, the second. At least, I hope so. I know there are no guarantees and when they become adults they will all make their own way in this world, but I hope that like me, their childhood memories of the joy and community at church will remain with them. I pray that no matter how old they get and where life might take them, they will always consider the Catholic Church to be their home.