Christmas Chaos And Connecting With Christ: 5 Tips To Keep Your Sanity And Still Make Mass Meaningful

by Advent and Christmas

If there is one thing every Catholic knows, it’s that Christmas Mass is one of most chaotic Masses of the year. Often the parking lot is overflowing and the pews are jam-packed with people. Not to mention the sheer madness that can ensue when trying to get everyone dressed, ready, and out the door on time.

In all the hustle and bustle, sometimes the real message of Christmas – namely, the amazing love of Jesus – gets lost in the shuffle. Here are 5 tips to not only make Christmas Mass smoother for you and your family, but also to make it a whole lot more meaningful too!

5 Tips For Families Going To Christmas Mass

  1. Plan to come early. Christmas Mass is arguably one of the most crowded Masses of the year. So there are certainly practical reasons to come early – like avoiding the stress of the busy parking lot! But another good reason to come early is that you can attempt to find a seat near the front of the church. Sitting up front offers your kids a better view of all that is happening at Mass. After you’ve found your seats, take your children to light a candle and say a prayer for a loved one, add a few coins to the poor box, and admire stained glass windows. Then quietly lead your children in a prayer as you kneel in your pew and prepare your hearts for Mass.
  1. Dress appropriately. Many families make an extra effort to get their children dressed up for Christmas. Maybe it’s a tradition in your home to buy matching dresses for the girls or snazzy suits for the boys. How we dress can be a way to show God that we recognize the importance of this day. However, the most important factor when dressing your children for Mass should be centered around what they are most comfortable wearing. Clothing that is too stiff, constrictive, or scratchy will distract your children and take away from the quiet moments they could be sharing with Our Lord in the Mass. Ultimately, Mass is an opportunity to have an encounter with Jesus – namely, Jesus in the Eucharist, so don’t get overly wrapped-up in your children’s fashion choices, and instead let the main focus be Christ.
  1. Manage your expectations. Oftentimes parents put a lot of emphasis on their children’s behavior at Mass. While it’s normal to want your kids to be still and quiet for Mass, depending on your child’s age and circumstances, it may not realistic. Focusing too much on their outward behavior can also lead you down the wrong path – you may become so pre-occupied with how they are acting that the both of you miss out on encountering Christ at all. A better way is to recognize that God made your child the way that they are – wiggles, squeals, and all. He understands that kids will be kids — and he doesn’t mind the noise. More than anything, what Jesus wants is to be with your child so the two of them can build a loving relationship with one another. So let the little things go and let God handle things. 
  1. Enjoy the moment. Along the same lines, if you’ve spent an entire Mass trying to force your child to behave, you’re likely leaving a little resentful. That experience is all too common, and it’s unfortunate because when your head is full of frustration toward your child’s behavior, there isn’t a lot of room for Jesus to work in your heart. So, when it comes to your child’s behavior at Mass, what happens at Mass stays at Mass. Christmastime is a time to draw closer to Our Lord and to each other. Don’t waste your time stewing over something your child did during Mass. It doesn’t matter to God, and it shouldn’t matter to you.
  1. Prepare ahead of time. Admittedly, Christmastime can be a stressful time for parents. Rather than giving in to stress and anxiety though, the best thing to do is to focus on readying your children’s hearts for meeting Jesus in the Mass. My new book, The Mass and the Manger: My First Interactive Christmas Story, can be helpful in this endeavor. Sometime in the weeks leading up to Christmas, read the book to your child. Talk to them about the ideas presented there – how just as Jesus came to dwell with us long ago on that first Christmas, he similarly dwells with us now through the miracle of the Eucharist – which is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. On Christmas, feel free to bring the book with you. Let your child interact with the scenes presented on the pages. Help them make connections between the book and the Mass taking place around them. Above all, take a moment to come alongside them and encounter Jesus together, for there is nothing more precious in this world than that!
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