Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tips on Attending Daily Mass

In 2008, my humble little convert family started attending Daily Mass together at 6:30 AM each morning. Our Holy Father gets all credit for this new habit. (We started attending Daily Mass in April to prepare our tiny kids to sit through the Papal Mass.) Since we have 3 kids under age 6, we're the only noisy ones in the pews at that early hour. A friend asked me to share some advice gleaned on this subject. Here's a recap of my email to her.

Reasons to go to Daily Mass:

1) You have a front seat to your priest's best homilies.

2) You effortlessly learn Scripture & observe cool, formerly unknown Saint's Days.

3) You get to form close friendships with other highly motivated and extremely kind parishioners. The "Daily Mass" folks tend to be a regular, stable group who you'll meet over and over again at church events. We've formed close friendships with people of all different ages, and in our immigrant Catholic church, from all different countries.

4) You get to know your priests well and they get to know your family.

5) Your kids get exposed to Mass as a regular part of Daily Life.

Those are just the quick tangible things that keep us former night owls going to bed early so that we can wake up at 5:30 AM, dress extremely sleepy children into nice clothes and bundle them into a freezing car in the dark.

Here's the mystical part that I can't put easily into words. "It's the Eucharist." Its the summit of Catholic life. It's the world's greatest miracle that gets enacted at your local parish church each and every morning and several times on Sunday. When you show up to the "optional" Mass, you receive grace. You get told explicitly in a homily or in a Sacred Scripture quote exactly how you are supposed to change your life to better conform yourself to Christ. And like the helpless humans that we are, Christ gives you himself to help you reach up to God.

If I'm asked why I drag a pack of restless young children to Mass each day, my simple answer is "because I need it." I need Mass. I need the Eucharist. I need that daily dose to get myself through the laundry washing, and the naughty chair enforcement, and the finding of the missing buckle shoes.

I go to Mass nearly day because I need Christ.

I go to Mass nearly every day because Christ needs me. He needs me there to receive his daily outpouring of love.

When I'm at Daily Mass, I get to pray for the needs of our whole Church and our whole world. My kids get to notice that the three Wisemen moved a little bit closer to the Nativity set and that someone kindly glued back the donkey's ears which got broken off last Sunday. By going to Daily Mass, I get to pray, to go to confession and to be blessed on every trip home to see my parents, every big meeting for my husband and every scary homeschooling meeting for myself.

When I go to Daily Mass, I'm already in a holy routine. When my father-in-law had his scary helicopter flight to the regional ICU, we didn't have to look up the next Daily Mass times. We already knew it by heart. On that scary day when we didn't know if Jon's Dad would be okay, we got up at our regular time and prayed our "regular" Mass with with our beloved parish priest and a beloved group of devout friends.

Not every day is an "emergency", of course. But every day, especially these hectic days with lots of young bodies in my house, is Holy. The single greatest help to living a more holy life is to "eat Jesus" more often!

If you feel any pull of your heart to go to Mass more often, just start. Don't make a big plan or big announcement. Start where you can. Drag the kids out to Mass at Candle Mass on Feb 2. Or start going by yourself on Saturdays in honor of Our Blessed Mother.
Start where you can start and let yourself be surprised by all the heavenly help that will race forward to embrace you!

Anyone else going to extra "optional" Masses either alone or with young children in tow?