Every Sunday I get the joy of experiencing the cross of Jesus in a most particular and acute manner. I bring my kids to Sunday mass. I
know pray that in time they will come to appreciate the sacrifices their mother and I make to help them grow accustomed to the public worship of the Church; but sometimes it feels like a losing battle. Here now, the seven “worst” things about bringing your kids to mass.
1. The music. With such rollicking, good-times hits as City of God, Pan de Vida, and Gather Us In our contemporary celebration of the Eucharist is replete with schlocky, bubblegum, all around horse shit tunes. I long ago gave up on Baroque entrance antiphons or O Sacred Head Surrounded. Instead I am forced to say to my little ones (with a smile, no less) “Kids, Augustine said ‘who sings prays twice’. You need to sing because it’s part of the mass. Hey, stop stealing her bulletin!” I read somewhere that a famous modern-day composer gave his interpretation of Vatican II as “demanding that we bring the ‘magic of Broadway’ to the mass”. Idiot. FYI I wouldn’t drop a dime, let alone $100 to sit in the back of the second balcony at the Schubert to hear this crap. Saccharine, sugar-coated, 70’s power ballads sung by “vocalists” who know not a sharp from a flat. God help me.
2. Please stand and greet the people next to you. Dear God, I see these people every Sunday. I know them. Some of them have been to my house for dinner. When the cantor instructs us to engage in this artificial act of friendship my six year-old son generally stands and says “Hello Mommy, hello Daddy!” then sits back down. He’s sitting between us. I have a better idea. Why don’t we just start the mass?
3. Children’s Liturgy of the Word. Not familiar? You must not be from a progressive parish like ours. By progressive I mean that someone a few years ago thought it was 1975 and that children should be taken from their parents to sit in another room and listen to the same readings but in a condescending tone. The reality is (I suspect) that the parents are only too happy to send their kids away so as not to have to deal with them during mass. Oh the irony of hearing the same awful cantor belting out the line “Let the Children Come… To Me!” while sending the children away from Him. “Kids, stay put. And for God’s sake stop taking her freakin’ bulletin!”
4. The Half-Hour of Power Homily! My son in particular has the attention span of a gnat. Thanks for that rambling treatise on nothing in particular, Father! I owe you one.
5. The Bulletin. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph get off the *%$)ing bulletin!!! If I have to tell you one more time, we’re not getting donuts. Do you hear me? Of course you do, you’ve got the bulletin rolled up and wrapped around your ear. I give up.”
6. Did I mention the music? Let’s get back to this for a second. I swear I read somewhere (like in one of the Council’s Constitutions) that the pipe organ should have pride of place in worship. Look around our church and you can’t even spot one. How about the other aesthetics? No stained glass to capture their imaginations, no bells, no cool incense… I’d bounce off the walls if I was 4 and placed inside a brutalist concrete bomb shelter too.
7. The empty promise of “no donuts if you misbehave”. Let’s face it. I throw this one out there every week. “Kids, behave at mass and we’ll all get donuts.” They fight with each other and — “One more time with that damn bulletin!” — generally act like goofballs (especially during Communion). Does that stop me? No, this is Pop we’re talking about. Daddy likes his donuts. Through the grace given me in the sacrament of marriage I miraculously find a way to get that donut. “Well, kids, you were terrible today. But you did recover in the last seconds and no one had to go to the ER so… DONUTS!” This “recovery” even superseded the following exchange during the recessional. “(singing) Let us build the city of – GIVE HER BACK HER ROSE OF LIMA DOLL!!! – God, may our tears be turned into dancing! GIVE IT NOW!!!” True, I hate going back on my word but man I really wanted that donut. They’ll thank me when they’re older that I tried being kinder rather than sterner (if that’s a word).
So why do we take them? Because it’s the right thing to do. Because we have to. Because babysitters on a Sunday morning are kind of pricey. And because they’re cute and I like showing them off even when they are under the direct influence of minions of the prince of darkness.
And yes, we did get donuts.