Monday, April 26, 2010

a child's view from the pew...

... I blog what I know and observe. I am no expert on the mass in the extraordinary form. I can not provide deep theological pontifications from a scholarly perspective. I also can not give you details of who was in attendance, those Catholic celebrities... I am terrible with names. This isn't that type of blog, and jokes aside, I am really not that type of Catholic. I'm from a simpler sort, and this post is from an even simpler perspective... that of a child.

The blog coverage of the Pontifical Solemn High Mass has been vast, with commentary and extraordinary photos. I took a few myself with my cell phone but the quality was poor. I wish I snapped a few shots of the children though. I regret that.

More so than all the beauty that surrounded me at that mass, within the liturgy and the church itself, was the beauty and looks of absolute wonder on the children's faces. I guess because I am mom I notice these things.

I noticed two little boys in some matching traditional Asian dress who kept peeking around the pews. They would get up and cautiously walk up as close as they could to see what was going on. The babies in their parents arms would raise their sleepy heads and look around at the sound of the chorus, as if angels had called their names. Toddlers sat in stunned awe and craned their necks to look at the ceiling mosaics or stand on their tip toes to look over the seated heads.

It was a mass that enveloped their entire senses; sight, sound and smell. I know it will leave a lasting impression. I still remember the first time I went to a Catholic mass as an unchurched child and the mark it left on me unbeknownst at the time but resurfacing almost two decades later.

It was a mass that fosters vocations... as I believe any reverently celebrated mass has the opportunity to be. Any time a child witnesses something so out of ordinary [hence "extraordinary" form] it burns itself into their memory.

It is why I am so adamantly opposed to the removal of sacred art from churches, or congregational centered worship. If we can think of it in terms of our children, our future, then we owe it to our faith to keep our churches beautiful and our masses solemn. The look of wide eyed wonder on their faces said it all.

Afterward I took my son to the blognic... yes, The Boy was in bar. Parental fail, I know. Let me justify, I would never miss a chance to have The Boy interact with clergy and seminarians. I think it is important for him to see that they are men. Normal men. Men who like to be sociable and love to laugh over a few beers enjoying the camaraderie. Too often when people think of the vocation of the priesthood the first thought is of all the things you must give up. Worldly things. Like material possessions and sex. My son needs to see that being a priest doesn't mean giving up your love of life and your desire for joy and fun. He sees them as intelligent and charismatic. Role models. Good role models. Men who are genuinely happy.

I have one rule for my family... they must never bash The Church or say anything negative about a priest or other member of a religious community in front of my son. So far they have respected my wishes. Whether my son becomes a priest or religious is between him and Christ, but I will do my damndest in the meantime to not persuade his opinion in a negative direction.



I wish I had thought to thank the seminarians and priests who talked with my son. They treated him with respect, talked to him not as a child but really conversed with him. And even now, he was still talking about the chicken fingers Fr. Z bought him and the Roy Rogers he got to drink at the bar with the young man in a cassock who was wearing glasses... I wish I could remember his name. He told The Boy he knew he wanted to be a priest when he was only nine years old.

I can't imagine the grace involved in that. I am almost 35 and still haven't decided what I want to be when I grow up.

I apologize, I ramble. I just felt like it needed to be said. I love our priests, I support our seminarians. Thank you gentlemen.

35 comments:

Terry Nelson said...

Magnificent post.

Ben said...

Beautiful post.

And I am insanely jealous of your son for getting to have chicken fingers with Fr. Z.

Dauphin said...

Really an extraordinary post. A really great insight into the value of solemn and beautiful liturgy.

Mark Scott Abeln said...

The Boy is lucky to have a good mom like you.

Joe (Defend Us In Battle) said...

Kat... that post was a home run. Honestly... it may be the best heartfelt post I have read in a long time. And not just on your blog... but any blog. Not just saying that.

Andrea said...

Ok what did I miss... where is the world did you go? Where are you??

Geremia said...

Good post indeed. This just proves that beauty is objective and that the mass isn't just a Western or European cultural manifestation, as heretics like Hans Küng think. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice at Calvery! Does that mean it is restricted to a certain time, place, age group, or culture? Absolutely not! God transcends these things.

Clinton said...

That post was excellent for so many reasons.

Old Bob said...

Superb! Thanks SO much, Kat!

GeraldF_Rotter雅慧 said...

Nice Post~!!!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

scuppered said...

I am rising from the kitchen table now and giving you a standing ovation. Well said, kiddo.

chris said...

As someone who was there in the front pews with all those Catholic celebrities, as someone who only goes to the TLM every week, as someone who helped bring this Mass to fruition even in my small way, as someone who can talk deeply enough about this Mass, I want to say thank you. Thank you for looking at it from this perspective. You truly brought me to tears. My two boys, 3 and 9 months, were acting just as you described and I really wasn't even paying attention with my eyes fixed on the altar. But thank you for the ability to look back and remember how they were reacting. This was a wonderful post.

Julie Cragon said...

Wonderful post.

Smiley said...

God Bless you Kat.

LarryD said...

That was a great post. Thanks.

Donna said...

It would be nice if this post could be featured in the diocesan newspapers. It would be so instructive to parents.

Dymphna said...

Darn I wish I could've gone.

Heather said...

Brava!!

Badger Catholic said...

Like

Denis said...

What a good mother you are! Your son is blessed.
And, the church is blessed to have such a spokesperson.

Quanah said...

Thank you for such a wonderful post. And taking your boy to a bar? Definitely not a fail.

Suburbanbanshee said...

First, awesome post. I think we all agree.

Second, we're Catholics. We're allowed to drink, thank God. And a bar or pub or restaurant that serves drinks is perfectly fine for a kid, as long as it's not a meat market or something like that. Seeing adults drinking responsibly and not making a big deal about it helps train kids in how to act when they're old enough to drink.

Besides, kids get to drink a Roy Rogers or a Shirley Temple when they visit places like that. :) 'S awesome.

TCN said...

My four year old son heartily agrees with you. He prefers the TLM, particularly if choirs are involved, and absolutely prefers churches built prior to 1880. He hates churches without stained glass, statues or paintings, and he really goes berserk when there is lots of incense (holy smoke, he calls it).

The kid can't read, but he can learn so much from what he sees, and what he observes in the people around him. He says the new church is for singing but the old church is for praying.

Kids get it--why don't adults?

fuinseoig said...

Wonderful post on the Mass and nothing parentally failing about bringing the boy to a bar - every Irish man and woman has been in a pub since they could toddle.

Okay, maybe that last isn't the greatest example, but ya know wadda mean ;-)

Mimi said...

I agree, what a wonderful post.

Dr. Eric said...

Taking a kid to a bar is not a "parent fail" my parents practically raised me in a bar. I have been married for 9 years now and we have 4 little children. I neither have a love nor a hatred for alcohol- I'll drink a beer or some wine about 3-4 times a month. If that's where the priests and the good Catholic people were, that's where the child needs to be.

And, Fr. Z bought him some chicken strips? Lucky little guy!

Sheep 1 said...

Excellent post and we need to think more about how and what we teach the children.

I posted a pretty nice antique holy card today which shows some of the mystery of the traditional Mass.
Kay

He Gently Calls Us

laurazim said...

*sigh* WONDERFUL post. I can't believe your son got to have chicken fingers with Fr. Z!!! Epic event!!! (Though I'm not sure chicken fingers could compare with some of the fare Fr. Z blogs about...;) ) Tis true--we parents must always be on the look out for opportunities to spend family time with our dear priests, seminarians and religious. I'm so glad for your son that he has such a wonderful Mama who blesses him in this way!! :)

John from Pomeroy on the Palouse said...

Wow! Beautifully expressed.

And wouldn't you and The Boy have missed this experience had the volcano in Iceland not erupted and you had gone to see the Swiss Guards as planned?

John

Stitchwort said...

Kat, that was indeed a wonderful post!

The Crescat said...

John... you know that thought crossed my mind before. I would be in Europe right now with a man all wrong for me. I think I was meant to go to this mass. My son whispered to me during the homily that he wanted to be a priest.

Rome will always be there... moments like that with my son are rare and fleeting treasures.

Thank you, John. I was tempted to feel sorry for myself and my circumstances. Your perspective made prevented otherwise.

Linda said...

Kat,what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for this. Bravissima.

kired said...

thumbs up

nazareth priest said...

This is so beautiful...see, told ya!
(I have to be Irish now for a moment!)
The good Lord wanted ya to be there, doncha know? And wit' da boy, doncha know?
He's not keepin' ya from da Holy Fadder nor from (what dey say, hmf), 'GARGUS Georg'...) He's fillin' your soul wit' Him; all wit' Him.
He'll lead you.
Doncha ever forget it, eh?:<)!

Janny said...

Kat-

Having just read your "apology" post, the latest one, and scrolled down to this one...which somehow I missed the first time around (go figure), I think you've evened the Purgatory score out ahead of time with this one. :-)

Seriously, there's nothing like kids seeing good, holy, happy priests to bring us more good, holy, happy priests. And, I might add, even when those kids are older, if someone not too far from their own age answers the call...that speaks volumes to them. We have a cousin who is just a little older than my kids--he was, in fact, an altar boy at our wedding!--who has served as both my daughter's godfather and a splendid example of following God's call to the priesthood. It's great to hear my son, now 27, watch what has happened with "cousin Kevin" and admire him so much as "Fr. Kevin" now. Maybe we'll bring about a few more vocations in the family out of this...(heh heh)

I did tell my daughter, and she's convinced, that if you have both a Pontifical Blessing plaque on your wall (which she has), and a priest for a godfather...you're in pretty darn good shape. :-)

Great post, Kat. You go, girl.