Posted by: mmstanger | September 24, 2009

Faith First

This morning, when I woke up, I had “faith first” in my mind. After I sat down to do my daily readings and quick journaling, I started dabbling at composing a post about “faith first” as it applies to our family’s daily life, including our homeschooling endeavors. But, I found that my ideas just weren’t flowing. Plus, Nina woke up. So, I decided that the moment was not one the right one for writing blog posts…

To tell the truth, now is not an ideal moment either. The clock is telling me it’s time for morning snack with the kids and the sunshine outside is beckoning us to go outside to eat it, hang laundry, … Still, ideal or not, it seems the right moment to write something. For, the children are happily playing together here in the office and as one bit of Father Jason’s brief homily from this morning’s Mass is reverberating in my head. So, eloquent or not, here goes:

Faith first. It’s an ideal we strive for, but not a reality we always practice. For some weeks, I have at least tried to make “faith first” a very literal habit in our daily lives. I aim to say a prayer upon waking and try to make time to immediately do daily readings and journaling, before the kids wake and I remind them to say, “Good morning, God!” Then, we say grace at breakfast and do some sort of faith-based story or song time. More often than not, we manage to stay true to this rhythm. It seems to be the only routine we have kept lately. So, why change it?

God!

For some time, I have thought God was trying to work on my understanding of the importance of the Eucharist and on my willingness to embrace the gift that it is. As a part of this, I kept sensing that I should make more of an effort to attend daily Mass. But, one excuse or another always came to mind – and always seemed valid – so I didn’t act on the impulse to go. Instead, I excused myself, saying that it wasn’t really what I was supposed to do.

Then, Monday, a friend of mine called to catch up. During our chat, she shared that she and her children had begun going to daily Mass and that she was amazed with the effect it was having in their lives. Like me, she has busy little ones who do not always behave at Mass (a prime excuse why I wasn’t going.) I thought, “If she can commit to this, why can’t I?” So, I made a date for the following morning.

God made it easy. Both Luke and Nina woke up in time. (Another excise I had allowed myself is that Luke does not nap and, thus, his nighttime sleep is vital for him. I would go to Mass if he woke up in time, which had yet to happen.) So, we bundled into the stroller and off we went.

Truth be told, Mass on Tuesday was not a miraculous, spiritual experience for me (save for that both of the kids actually stayed in the pew the entire time!) It was rather luke warm from an emotional/spiritual perspective. Yet, I am glad I went. I know it was right. I felt God smiling on me, happy that I had chosen to listen and obey (much like I smile when my own children make such a choice. Plus, the walk to church and the playground afterward was invigorating.

Yesterday, getting to Mass wasn’t quite as easy. Nina was awake early, smiling and ready and willing to go. But, I had to take Luke’s diaper off and put him in a decent shirt while he was still snoozing, before carrying him to the in the car. (We had an appointment scheduled for shortly after Mass, so now beautiful walk that morning. Then, when we got to the church, Luke had to go potty, so he dropped his pants right next to the car – yikes! Plus, he was hungry and couldn’t wait to nibble on the breakfast I had packed for him, so I ended up with two little squirrel children in the pew with me, munching dry cereal as we were graced with Mass, despite making it there late…

Today was a bit of a push, too – quite literally. Nina wanted to stroll to Mass with “Dollie” in her lap. But, Luke slept in again, so I had to put him in the stroller in jammies. Then, I had to power walk to church to get us there in time (almost!) As we got into the pew, beads of sweat dripped from my face. Still, I smiled, thinking about how willingly my sleepy Luke had let me put him in the stroller even after I told him it was time to go to Mass. (Lately, on Sundays, he often protests very loudly about going to Mass.) This smile broadened as God spoke to me through Father Jason’s homily, which was partly about prioritizing God through going to Him first in prayer at good moments and bad. I thought, “Wow! This morning, I thought, ‘Faith first,’ and now I am hearing that message expanded upon…”

My reflection was cut short, however, when Luke said he had to go potty just as the Liturgy of the Eucharist was beginning. Oh well! Nature calls and three year olds cannot often wait. So, I made my mental apologies to the Lord and brought Luke to the bathroom.

Getting Luke and Nina back into the pew was bit of a challenge after that, as they both wanted to walk up the aisle. I managed, but, then, lost Luke right after Mass, when he ran to meet a friend, but ended up running right out the door – scaring me! Luckily, some kind elderly parishioners scooped up Nina, who I left straggling behind as I raced to corral Luke. And, within a few minutes, I had the kids in the stroller and was on my way home, sun shining, beautiful day, lots of thoughts running through my head (everything from the homily to the training my kids need, from thankfulness for Mass to exasperation at my speedy son…)

The walk home, though more leisurely than the walk to Mass, took a lot of me. I am not sure why, but I found my heart beating loudly, my breath a bit short and my face beaded in sweat. It was work. So was getting to and through Mass this morning. But, all that work– and the “work” of raising children, of trying to keep a home, of fulfilling all the roles in my life – is work I am grateful for. Today I embrace it with a renewed sense of purpose.

God asks us to put him first.  When we obey in our work and in our play, he smiles.  That smile is such a reward!

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