My oldest daughter just turned 8, and I can’t believe how grown up she acts sometimes, especially when we go to church. It feels like one day she was munching Cheerios and looking at picture Bibles during Mass, and then I blinked, and now when I look over at her, I see her paying attention and reciting the Nicene Creed with us.
I find this sight encouraging, especially as I hold my wiggly 18-month old, who typically spends much of the Mass patting my face, trying to eat the back of the pew in front of us or pulling his sister’s hair.
I know I’ve written before about the trials and tribulations that come with bringing children to Mass. It is still one of the more exhausting things we do each week, yet I know it is among the most important things as well. Yes, there are many weeks when we’ve spent so much time wrangling kids that we couldn’t tell you what the homily was about. However, I take comfort in the fact that our kids feel at home in church. They know God, they know he loves them, and they know many of the people in church love them too.
Even when they don’t appear to be paying attention, I know they’re absorbing the faith and God’s love. Although my 6-year-old spent most of Christmas Eve Mass drawing, the resulting picture was an incredibly detailed Nativity scene, complete with shepherds, angels and Magi. And when it’s time for the consecration, my 4-year-old cranes her neck to “see Jesus.”
It’s hard to focus on the homily when my son is determined to sneak his fingers into my nose or mouth, but watching my daughters grow into their faith reminds me what I’m working towards.
Burke is a staff writer for the Catholic Courier.