Thursday, July 20, 2006

Peaceful Mass vs. Mass Circus

Ahhh, the Catholic Sunday Mass. Every Sunday. Without fail. Unless you are dying. (and you'd really better go then, so you can get your "last rites"!) Stand up, sit down, kneel, stand, kneel, sit, kneel. Do it in the right order. Say the right response at the right time. Sing when the man or lady waving their arms around tells you to sing. I know - some of you don't get our compunction to go EVERY week, but it's been ingrained in me since I was born. And honestly, when I allow myself to get immersed in it, the Mass really does "feed" me spiritually for the upcoming week. Not to sound preachy/muffy/holier-than-thou or anything like that, but we try so very hard (in our own lame way) to get there on time. And like many of the regulars, we tend to sit in the same area each week. Don't misunderstand. We are not like those anal-retentives who know exactly which row is "theirs" and give people the evil eye if someone deigns to take their pew. We just sit in the same basic 6 to 8 rows. I guess we've found our "comfort zone". However, on two separate occasions recently, we let life get in the way (read: had hair problems that screamed to be resolved before walking out the door...) and arrived at Mass just as it was about to start. So, once, I marched the family all the way down to the front, and once, we simply slithered into the back row. Let me tell you something. They were two completely different Masses. Don't get me wrong. Same priest was presiding. Similar Mass content (I think...). But it was as if we were in two completely different universes altogether. Let me lay the scene. Front of the Church: Serene, peaceful people who are fully participating in the Mass Back of the Church: Young, sleep-deprived parents whose children distract anyone within a 50 foot radius Front: Perfect opportunity to listen to the readings and really reflect on their meaning Back: Perfect opportunity to cover my mouth to keep from laughing out loud at all of the naughty things the pre-school age children around us were doing Front: Perfect vantage point for helping with the distribution of the Eucharist (communion) Back: Perfect spot to find leftover Cheerios if your stomach is growling Front: Ideal location if you want to focus on the Mass and solely the Mass Back: Ideal location if you want to focus on the adorable drooling twins and their conniving older brother in the pew in front of you Front: Quiet as a church Back: Quiet as a circus ---Speaking phonetically, sounds like: wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-woooooooooooooo! RRRRRAAAAHR! Mommy, RRRRRRRAAAAHR! I'm a lion! RRRRRRAAAAHR! (SHHHHHH!) No! RRRRRRAAAHR! (SHHHHHHH!) ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! Mommy, ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH ME-OH ME-NOOOOOOOO! NO! Mommy! (Shhhhhh!) NOOOOOOOooooooooooooo! (now muffled and slightly drowned out by hand over mouth trick, followed by obvious licking Mommy's hand sounds and delighted laughter, followed by Mommy shoving Petey Preschooler into Daddy's arms and turning away as if she doesn't even know the child) Front: Perfect view of the alter/priest/servers, etc. Back: Perfect view of all the pretty outfits in church that week, not to mention a prime spot to watch Petey Preschooler sock his mommy in the butt like 30 times before the dad nearly rips his arm out of the socket. Petey, though, seems indestructable (and incorrigible) and smiles a toothy grin. Again, failed attempts to suppress our laughter. Front: Snuggle time with hubby Back: Birth control argument Front: Great for those with long attention span Back: Great for adult ADD victims You get the picture. Several times during Mass, while we were in the back row circus, my older daughter and I had to avoid eye contact because we both knew we'd start cracking up at all of the funny noises, sightings, etc. Sorry, I know you had to be there 'cuz' writing simply cannot do it justice. It really did take me back to when our girls were younger. Generally speaking, they were pretty good, though they, too, had their moments. Like the time our two-year-old kept screaming, "I - WANT - SOME! I - WANT - SOME!" throughout the entire Communion. This went on until I remembered that I had some Cheerios tucked away in the good ol' diaper bag. When I got them out, she gleefully started eating them and proudly began yelling, "I - GOT - SOME! I - GOT - SOME", much to my horror. Ah, good times. Good times. I'd love to hear of your own WTM church experiences! Let's hear it, ladies!


Anonymous jennifer said...

don't they have Sunday School for kids or a nursery. Just thinking about taking my kids to Church with me makes me cringe. Besides they enjoy being with kids their own age and not having to go to the "grown ups church"

7/20/2006 12:42 PM  
Blogger tacky princess said...

Catholics are very funny about bringing their kids to the Mass. We have a "cry" room, but you might as well call that the room from hell because you can't hear any of the Mass, and every hellion from God's kingdom is in there.

Back in the day, the rule of thumb was that kids under about 5 weren't supposed to be in the big church (instead in the cry room). Now, I think they're just happy to get people to Mass on a regular basis. During the school year, there's Children's Church for 2 to 5 year olds, but there are tons of families who don't participate in that either. Go figure...:)


7/20/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger Wineaux1 said...

I took my four year old to Mass a couple weeks ago. He kept saying he had to go potty, but since we had been 15 minutes earlier, I told him to wait a few minutes (hoping to get through the gospel). During Father Mark's sermon, he announced "I have to poop". I was mortified but those around me all thought it was hilarious.

7/20/2006 2:46 PM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

It is a rare week that my husband or I will be able to sit all the way though. My toddler loves to crawl under the pews and play with the random people that sit behind us. We also have to stuff him with snacks because a busy mouth is a quiet mouth. He loves to yell during prayers much to my horror. The baby is starting to find his voice too but there is not much I can do to silence him except by covering his mouth. Everyone is very tolerant because pretty much everyone has been in our situation.

7/20/2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

We did some church shopping and finally found a church that will take care of our children. This is a MUST on our priority list. My son goes to Bible school, our daughter goes to the nursery, and we go to service. It is like a hot date for us...isn't that so sad?

7/20/2006 4:39 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Ok, I had to laugh at the description of the back, because that is where we sit due to a 4 yr old that still needs to learn to whisper and that talking during the prayers is not a good thing! We pack him a few small toys and a snack, or gum. I love gum, keeps his mouth busy instead of talking. And the cry rooms, Hahaha! Anyone know how to get an 11 year old to say the ressponses? Or sing? She's gone silent this year. Won't sing or do the responses at ALL.

7/20/2006 8:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my favorite church moment was when my oldest daughter was not quite 2 years old. We took her to 8am Mass (read: we were the only people under 70) and at a very quiet moment in the service, she lays back on the pew, sticks her legs up in the air and shouts "Mommy, I'm poopy!!!" with the looks that I got with that incident, I am amazed that God did not strike me down at that very moment.

7/21/2006 6:12 AM  
Blogger eemom said...

Ahhhh... the best moment for me must have been when my now 5-year old daughter was about two and was convinced that our priest was Jesus. That made for a fun time at mass. She would also clap and yell, "Yeah!" for the choir after each hymn.

7/21/2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger Woman with kids said...

So, the question is, which end will you pick to sit at next time?

7/21/2006 10:58 AM  
Blogger tacky princess said...

I will do my best to get the hair thing figured out earlier, arrive on time and go back to our same ol', same ol'. Old habits die hard. If I were a really good Catholic, though, I think I'd go back to the front 'cuz' I really did get much more out of the Mass up there. No distractions! :)

7/21/2006 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my boys don't perform in the back of the church. Only in the front. At the alter. While a baby relative is being Baptised. Picking their noses and butts, and using the occasion as a prime opportunity to fight with each other. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

7/21/2006 11:00 PM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

When my daughter was about 2 we migrated back to the nursery after service, along with all the other parents, where our sweet angel met us at the door wearing nothing but a diaper...both her legs were in the same leg hole...and a big grin to announce "I POOPED!" Apparently, she did and then wouldn't let the ladies in the nursery dress her again. The diaper was the best they could do. Everyone (except us) thought it was hysterical.

7/22/2006 5:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I adopted my daughter when she was 3 yrs old. Her first sunday at church we tried to go to the cry room. She taught the other toddlers how to pull the plug protectors out of the plugs. Then she taught them how to open the door, which had one of those child proof handles on it. Then she screamed so loudly that the glares of the other parents drove us out into the main church. Where we now sit in the back row, providing entertainment.....

7/22/2006 5:44 AM  
Blogger cmhl said...

good times...

my wtm church experience? oh, of course, the carring out of my oldest child while he screams "don't SPANK ME MOMMY!!!!"

ahhhh. precious memories, how they linger...

7/22/2006 7:11 AM  
Blogger queen of wt said...

TP, I tend to be a middle of the church to back of the church pew Catholic, due to my time management skills and the fact that both my daughters suddenly must use the restroom upon entering the church for Mass.

A natural underachiever, I am from the school of thought that going to worship (whatever the religion) is good.

Best Mass Story-My now 12 year old, when she was 2.5 years old. Sat in third row. Made the mistake of trying to "talk" to a toddler, pre-Mass, about why we GO TO WORSHIP----it's a special time of the week that we set aside to "TALK TO GOD".
To add fuel to insanity of trying to "reason" with a toddler, I went to Sunday night 6pm service.
Five minutes into Mass, she tells me that she really does not feel like "talking to God" and that perhaps she could "call him later". I swear this is true.
I ignore her until she gets louder and louder, more and more upset. We have to get up and LEAVE the Church as I carry her out, screaming at the top of her lungs, "I DON'T WANT TO TALK TO GOD RIGHT NOW".
Naturally, it was not that big of a deal to those in the Mass, but I wanted to D-I-E.

7/22/2006 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite church story is one that didn't involve me (duh- they're so much funnier)! I live near Notre Dame, and Mass is a very big deal here...particularly on home football weekends as there is much praying to or thanking God for a team victory. One such weekend, a child sitting behind me as what seemed like an entire herd of brothers filed into the church, exclaimed..."Dad, they are all wearing dresses...girls shouldn't have beards!!" I almost fell down and had to grind my teeth the whole mass not to giggle. Well, that and keep eyes skyward to look out for my thunderbolt to come and get me.

7/23/2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Sharpie said...

I too find the middle the best, for I can still look around and see the newest outfits (horrid as they may sometimes be) and close enough to NOT be in the back. I have made that mistake a few times myself and would heard as much as if Nascar were running laps around the church.

7/24/2006 12:41 PM  
Blogger SistaSmiff said...

I've always sung in the choir and my husband is usually on the road, so I've done the church thing alone lo these many years. One Sunday when my daughter was about 4 (she hated the nursery) and my friends that she and my son usually sat with weren't there. I put her and my son (20 months older than she is) on the very front row. I really didn't expect any issues to come up. They were used to being in Big Church and were usually very good.

This particular Sunday, The Daughter was in a "not so lady like" mood and keep sitting there with her legs WIDE open, flashing the choir, the preacher and anyone else towards the front. I got her attention and was mouthing "Sit UP!" and the lady behind her tried to get her to sit up. She would have no part of it. She was going to show the world her panties.

At one point, she laid flat on the pew, legs as far apart as they'd go, obliviously comfortable and relaxed. Finally, I just got up out of the choir and went down to sit with her.

She's about to turn 13 and really hates it when I tell this story.

7/25/2006 4:36 AM  
Blogger ^starshine said...

Our daughters are now old enough to make their way up front and sit with the Children's Minister and hear her message during "Children's Time."

My eldest went up front and took her place on the pulpit steps with the other children. My middle child went up front, sat down on the steps and then began to wildly wave to the hubby and me. My Hubby was mortified and was trying to signal for her to "stop it!" I told him to hurry up and just wave and she'll stop.

Of course after "Children's Time" the kids are dismissed back to their families. And my Incredible Z Girl takes this opportunity to RUN back to the pew and scream with glee the whole way.

I couldn't tell if the old foggies where laughing in amusement or horror.

7/25/2006 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Carla said...

I'm in charge of the music about once a month at my church, so my 4-year-old sits with grandma and grandpa while I'm up front. They sit at the very back. He waves like crazy at me, of course. I've also become aware that his "whispers" at the back ("hi mom", etc) are fully audible throughout the sanctuary.

Our church also passes the offering plate, and I usually give him a few coins to "give to Jesus", at which he always cranes his head all around and asks - in his "whisper" of course - "Mom, who's Jesus today?"

7/26/2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger green3 said...

Every year for midnight mass at xmas, the same person would "sing" the stations of the cross. It was long and horrible and we made fun of it terribly in our family. So each year our family of 5 (parents included) would put our heads down and laugh throughout the entire thing. Oh, the memories of growing up Catholic!!

7/31/2006 8:42 PM  

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