"Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." // Matthew 19:14
I clung to my toddler’s wrist while checking my newborn’s breathing in the sling carrier on my chest. We were making a bee-line for the back chapel at our parish before total waterworks could ensue, hoping to be less of a distraction in Mass, hoping to avoid those looks.
I pictured bringing children to Mass as tranquil, holy, and beautiful. They would delight in the Gregorian chant, the stained glass windows, the bells ringing at the elevation of the Host and chalice. They would page through religious books, kiss the crucifix of any dropped rosaries, and genuflect with great zeal at the final blessing.
None of these things happened.
Frantic sweaty nursing sessions under a suffocating blanket happened. Loud shouts of longing for a donut happened. Splitting up so my husband and I could alternate Mass times while the other waited at home with two kids under two happened.
It took many years of figuring out how to balance realistic expectations for my kids’ behavior with trips to the back, bribes, and occasionally still splitting Masses for me to fully embrace that God wants His children at Mass. He wants the crying baby, the reluctant returning Catholic, the mourning mother, the weary broken family. He is calling us all back to Him to feast at the banquet of the Lamb.
Have you held back from returning to church because you need to get to Confession and can’t receive? Go up for a blessing and get to Confession soon. Have you held back because your kids are little and loud? Load up on provisions and brave it. Have you held back because walking into a church brings up painful emotions? Lean into the Lord's healing power. The Lord is waiting for you to come and be with Him. “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them” (Matthew 19:14).
The Lord is waiting for you. // Nell O'Leary Click to tweet