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|