I’ve struggled with daily Mass attendance, even though I need to assist at daily Mass as much as is possible for me, for a long time. The older my girls get, it seems it becomes harder for me to get to Mass.
We have so much to do for school this week. There are so many activities going on.
Even working in Morning and Evening Prayer and a daily Rosary seems hard some days.
But recently, we have had some difficulties with our nearly-14 year old. She’s struggling with temptations, and more contact with the Sacraments is just what is needed here. And, again, I’m supposed to be attending daily Mass anyway. Yet, this week and next are what can only be described as the beginning of my insanity. I had a 3 hour appointment at my church (counting the collections) Monday morning, then a quick lunch before we brushed our teeth frantically to fool our dentist, then there was supposed to be a soccer game (which was cancelled, but we had grocery shopping to do instead). Tuesday was co-op, soccer, tap class, and a talk at the church – all without a break at home. Wednesday was pointe class, Mass, Adoration. Thursday is only ballet in the evening, and Friday will have a soccer game in the evening, then Saturday I’m up at 5:30 so I can drive 2 1/2 hours for a Lay Dominican meeting, then we’ll have dinner guests. Sunday is Mass, then a dinner party at our friends’ home. Monday is an eye appointment, homeschool co-op, soccer game… See what I mean? In here, I’m trying to fit daily Mass. And, oh yeah. We’re still homeschooling. Lessons need to fit in there somehow–high school lessons.
So, Mass has been pushed off a lot lately.
But it’s the Year of Faith! And I’m hoping to be received as a Lay Dominican in January! And, good gracious, my children need the graces afforded to those who attend daily Mass! (Yes, I need them, too.)
I’ve been felt very drawn – called – to participate in daily Mass for a while now. I even did it during Lent, with very few misses. But lately, it’s just been more misses than hits. But my children and I needed it, so I stopped everything at 11:30 on Tuesday and we got ready to go to the noon Mass.
At first, my mind was having a difficult time slowing down. How many pages of grammar were we supposed to get done? Did I finish science with my middle schooler? Will my high schooler be ready for her biology lab this afternoon? Do I have enough leftovers for all this week? Did we pack dance stuff in the car for after co-op and soccer?…
I forced myself to listen to the first reading, respond to the Psalm, and then stood as we sang Alleluia before the Gospel.
And that’s when it happened. That’s when God spoke directly to me through His Holy Word in the Gospel. Father began the reading:
“Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. …”
I knew this story. I knew where it was going. My eyes welled up with tears as I realized that I was Martha, struggling to fit in time to sit with Mary…
“…Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
‘Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.’
The Lord said to her in reply,
‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.'”
It took everything in me not to just break down and cry. I’d had it all backwards.
It’s been said that when you write a schedule, you should do it like you’re filling a jar with rocks, gravel, and sand. Start with the rocks, then pour in the gravel, then the sand. Each smaller item will fit in the crevices left by the larger objects. Even after the sand, you could add water to the jar and more things would fit. The key is to start with what’s biggest – what’s most important.
Mass and the Faith are the big rocks. In this Year of Faith, I want to be sure that I start with including all my big rocks: daily Mass, Morning & Evening Prayer, daily Rosary, reading the Catechism a little at a time, and writing. (Yup, I’m finally going to start writing more consistently and see if I can’t get a project done that has been weighing on me for a while.) Other stuff that’s more like gravel is the homeschooling (for our goal is Heaven, not Harvard – with apologies to a blog by that name, it’s a perfect way to sum up our goals as parents!), activities at the parish, etc. The sand is the less important stuff that we’d still like to do: hiking trips, watching movies and playing Wii as a family, relaxing and goofing around online… there’s a lot of sand in my life sometimes.
I’m never going to completely stop being Martha, but I can learn from her and strive to have my own Mary times, sitting at the feet of my Lord, resting my head on His knee as he comforts me and helps me put life in perspective. I need to have Mary times.
Because I want the better part, too.