It doesn’t take long for us parents to realize that our children absorb everything we do and say. I remember the first time I heard my two year old let out a long sigh and say “Oh, my gosh. I can’t even.” Her tone and expression were exactly like mine.
Sometimes you come face to face with your own sinful ways through the words and actions of your children.
I was recently at a Baptism in which the priest reminded each person present that it would be through his or her actions that the child being baptized would come to know about God and how to respond to Him. If the child witnessed us praying, she would learn prayer was important, but that if the child never saw any communication with God from the people in her life, the child would learn that it wasn’t necessary.
Though none of us is perfect, we do have the responsibility to try to model behaviors that we want our child to emulate. As much as kids learn from what we do, they also learn from what we do not do.
When we don’t make going to Church a priority each Sunday, it speaks volumes about faith and life to the hearts of our children.
This video from GabiAfterHours offers some great tips for bringing children to Mass.
6 Things Kids Learn When You Skip Mass On Sundays
1. God is important, but not that important.
If I can fit God in, great, but only if it is convenient for me. Football games, sleeping in, and _____ (insert activity of choice) are more important than making an effort to be with God one hour a week.
2. God doesn’t really mean what He says.
Yes, it is a commandment to keep the Lord’s Day Holy, but God doesn’t understand how busy I am or how many kids I have or how tired I’ve been so I can just decide based on my life’s circumstances what He really means by this commandment and all of His other commandments. It’s up to us to pick and choose which of God’s laws we want to follow.
3. The Church doesn’t really expect us to adhere to Her teachings.
Yes, it is a precept of the Church to attend Mass on Sundays, but the Church doesn’t understand how busy I am or how many kids I have or how tired I’ve been so I can just decide based on my life’s circumstances what the Church really means by this precept.
4. Mass is all about me and what I get out of it.
When we come and go to Mass as we please, we seem to forget that going to Mass builds the Church community. Your parish may need you to be a lector, sing in the choir, or take up the gifts. Seeing your family in Church might be just the thing an elderly person needs to bring joy to a lonely Sunday. There are many reasons that we are a community of faith and that we come together in Worship.
5. When things are difficult/boring, I don’t have to do them.
If we don’t go to Mass and we tell our kids it’s because Mass is “boring” or we “don’t get anything out of it,” our children learn that we only have to do things that are fun and exciting. This is simply not true regarding both our faith and everyday life. Most people don’t find doing their taxes fun and exciting, but we still have to do them.
6. To doubt the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the Graces that come from receiving Him
If you truly believe that Jesus is present in the Eucharist and that He comes to us each Sunday at Mass, what would keep you from Him? Why would you not want to receive the graces He bestows through this incredible gift?
Our Catechism teaches us “The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church.”
Parents, I know and fully understand how difficult it is to bring children to Church. Often when I leave Mass, I feel as if I have just competed in a wrestling match. No matter how much I plan and prepare (find tips here), we have plenty of days when the kids are less than angelic.
It is a battle. But, it is a battle worth fighting. There is no better place to bring our children than to the feet of Jesus. There is no better lesson to teach them than to put God first ALWAYS, no matter what else is going on in our lives or how difficult it is to be at Mass.
Guess what will happen if you wait to bring children to Mass until they can behave better or your life isn’t as busy? It won’t happen.
Satan will always give us an excuse to miss out on the celebration of the highest form of prayer we have here on earth, but God will always give us the graces to respond with a “yes” when we ask Him to help us.
Make Sunday Mass the one thing that your family consistently does together. Trust me, the blessings and graces that will come from this discipline will transform your family life in a powerful way.