This year it was Mary's turn to process with the diocese's other First Holy Communicants in the Eucharistic Procession at the 2016 Eucharistic Congress.
|Mary prayed one Hail Mary with each rose petal she threw|
Chris and I tried to learn some lessons from having done this three years ago (and, please, I must ask you to click here and see how wee and precious John was then, compared to this big fella who now weighs 20 pounds more and towers over his next younger sibling!). We attempted to take one vehicle so I wouldn't be separated, lost, and huffing along the road with a bunch of kids, but I ended up doing that anyway. We were running late, so Chris took his car to deliver Mary to the queue at 8:30 a.m. while I finished getting the rest of us loaded in the van, navigated my way downtown (which frazzles me), parked, and then began texting back and forth with Chris, trying to navigate the downtown streets.
He told me to follow the crowd, so I told him that the only crowd I could see were a bunch of people dressed in purple running a 5K.
Finally, I used my phone's GPS system to find a restaurant near where Chris was waiting, and walked there with the four other kids.
|Waiting for the procession|
It is always moving to me to view the always-surprising length of the procession and the ten thousand people lining the streets to watch, their becoming silent and then kneeling.
Unfortunately, it had not occurred to us that altar boys get to process as well; we only knew about First Communicant children. John could have processed with many of his cohorts, had we known.
|Chris and Margaret walking alongside Mary the whole time|
We reached the Convention Center where I found a place to park the stroller and wait for the Eucharist. I glanced to my right and discovered Margaret (5) already waiting, the first of our family to kneel--bless her heart!
Chris, Mike, and Steve (and our son John in tow) had done a superb job the night prior setting up a table for the Charlotte Latin Mass Community, an organization which has done so much to bring the traditional Latin Mass and many traditional devotions to our diocese. The table was beautiful, with a gorgeous banner, many free items, plus excellent books for sale.
|Chris, holding our baby, and telling a newcomer to the Latin Mass all about it|
Having our firstborn near ten years old has brought with it many changes I really wasn't anticipating. I didn't think much happened between "childhood" and maybe age 12-13-14. But there is an entire zone in between and we are in it now.
John was electrified last night by getting to set up the booth (where he did real and useful work) with a group of men and a priest, followed by their going to dinner. John showed a whole new level of maturity and interest in adult affairs: he came home at nine and talked off my ear about the happenings for an hour. Then during the Congress, this was the first year he did not want to race around finding ways to spend his money, but requested (and was granted) to man the booth with the men.
These are new waters for me, folks. (Lately, quite a few mothers have brought up to me, 'Say, is John nine, almost ten? Yeaaaaah, a lot of things happen around then.')
|John helping a young peer learn about the Latin Mass|
Meanwhile, I did manage to get everyone out of the house with shoes on, but it turned out that the five-year-old chose shoes that were outgrown. They were pinching her feet terribly, and after I had her take off her socks to make room, they gave her blisters. That's when I instructed her to ditch the shoes and just wear socks all day.
It was one of those "you know you're in a big family when" moments when I spotted her wee body being in charge of carrying my heavy backpack and skating along in her socks-because-she-has-no-shoes.
Chris took care of two of the youngest, while I wore the screaming-from-missing-his-morning-nap baby on my back and escorted Mary (7) shopping among the many stalls. Chris remarked how moving it was when he stepped over to the "chapel" area of the Convention Center where 10,000 faithful were in silent Eucharistic adoration, on their knees on concrete, for more than 20 minutes.
After shopping for an hour with a wailing baby, we knew not to push our family any more. Chris took us to lunch, and then I drove the kids home while he and maturing John stayed at the Congress to man the CLMC table.