Saturday, October 24, 2015

St. Maria Goretti Mass (and a Birthday!)

Our diocese is very blessed this weekend to have a visitation from the major relics of St. Maria Goretti, whose remains are making the first-ever tour of the United States (all information about the tour can be found at this website). The tour has been featured in local news, with crowds of many thousands expected.

We arrived 45 minutes early to drop off John to altar serving (what an opportunity!), were directed to off-site parking, and there were already barely any seats remaining in the church. Walking in, we passed by the RV and special van in which the staff and holy relics travel the United States.

One girl alone

John was already in the sacristy, both little boys were strapped in the stroller, and the sisters were not yet infused with the heroic virtue of mercy as taught by St. Maria Goretti; thus neither sister would deign to be in a photograph with the other one, resulting in a single photo of only one girl. (St. Maria Goretti, pray for us who certainly need it!)

The traditional Latin Mass was so beautiful. (I don't know if my readers can view this, but there is a one-minute video of the exquisite processional, in which you can see John, available on Facebook.) Unfortunately, Joseph (almost 3) was behaving inappropriately for Mass (and I wish I could say it were rare form): dancing about, knocking down chairs, banging on the glass of the cry room, opening and slamming doors, singing loudly (not church songs), yanking away from me when I held his hands, and the list goes on and on--all done with an impish grin! No amount of consequences seemed to help, neither holding him still, nor giving him tiny, quiet toys with which to entertain himself, neither walking him outside in the stroller, nor my modeling quiet holiness (kneeling on the concrete with my eyes shut, hoping my mere example might quiet his spirit). Of course, I had infant Thomas too, who at many times was crying because he needed to be nursing or sleeping, but his rambunctious big brother made that impossible.

I looked about me and saw so many 2- and 3-year-old sitting quietly in their parents' laps and I felt they were like wonderful but alien beings. I felt humiliated as a parent and kept wondering if this was the normal humbling that we experience as parents the more children we have (because we discover how little we really know) or the humiliation because I'm actually doing a bad job at parenting.

I was at my wit's end, spending much time during Mass crying to God about how I have missed almost every special event (Masses, spiritual retreats, talks, speakers, conferences, fancy dinners, and professional opportunities) for nearly nine years now in my effort to do my duties in my vocation as wife and mother. Yet again today, I spent almost the entirety of the once-in-a-lifetime Mass outside and/or unable to hear what was being said, and certainly always unable to pay attention. Is this really what God wants?

AND HOW ON EARTH DO I TEACH LITTLE CHILDREN TO BEHAVE IN MASS?!?! We're closing in on a decade of my asking this advice of experienced mothers and trying what ideas are given me, but I still can't seem to get children to behave in Mass before five years old. (After that, ours are angels at Mass, for which I am grateful.)

Thus, I came out of the gorgeous Mass feeling stressed up to my eyeballs. I hope my children received many graces toward their future purity and their merciful hearts. The story of St. Maria Goretti and Alessandro (her murderer) is one of the most moving saint stories ever told.

Afterward, we were off to lunch at a Mexican restaurant, as requested by Chris to celebrate his birthday! No pictures were taken because of my frazzled self, fussing infant, and exhausted-to-mania two-year-old. But the food was great and the added company of Grampa Neil was fun.

Sadly, the best among many attempted family birthday photos

After dinner, Chris admired the handmade cards and opened his gift before we enjoyed ice cream sundaes.

Joseph adding music to the ambiance


  1. I am sorry that you once again did not get to enjoy the mass. I know TLM is very important to your family, that John was serving and that it was Chris's birthday, so you had to go together as a family. I had hoped to go as a family, but it did not work out and James encouraged me to go alone at night, so I got there at 11 pm, walked right up to venerate, then spent time praying and observing the exhibit. It was a moving experience and her story is truly remarkable.

  2. Also, remember that small children weren't even taken to mass way back when. I don't think you are failing because your 2 year old boy cannot behave at mass.

  3. Oh, that's sad that you missed the Mass! I would love to hear what John had to say about it. I was also going to say that children probably weren't taken to Mass until they were able to sit still. Don't look enviously at those other calm children, because you know they have their days, too, when they humiliate their parents. :-) I am looking forward to seeing St. Maria on Tuesday. I won't be there for the official Mass, just the regular morning Mass, but my children won't be with me, and that also makes me sad.

  4. I love your honesty! It makes me so glad when other women talk about this! Jason was in a wedding for his best friend the other month and guess who didn't get to see anything because she was outside with tantruming kids the whole time? Me! It was a stressful weekend anyhow and I was in tears the whole Nuptial Mass- I didn't even get to receive! At the wedding reception Jason wanted me to dance with him and I just couldn't. I was too stressed and tired and weepy to dance. My children are def worth all the sacrifices I make for them- but, like you felt, sometimes the weight of these sacrifices falls hard on me! Jason says thats why there are so many old ladies at daily Mass- they are making up for all the Masses they missed being outside with crying kids! Praying for you!