Recently, I posted about the challenge of convincing our children that going to Mass is a priority in our lives, especially when they push back and tell us that it’s boring or that they don’t get anything out of it. Rather than trying to convince them that it will be fun and exciting, it is more important that we concentrate on helping them to appreciate the deeper reasons why Sunday worship—the Eucharist—is so central to our spiritual health.
In an article in Together Magazine (a Loyola Press resource for God’s Gift: Eucharist), my friend Tom McGrath shares “8 Reasons to Bring Your Child to Mass Regularly”—four of which I posted about previously. Here are Tom’s other four reasons to bring your child to Mass. (I’ve added my own thoughts below each.)
Taking children to Mass will:
- “fill their hearts with songs that shape their souls. Music has impact. The songs we sing at Mass help us see how God is active in our lives.”
[The hymns we sing at Mass are not just there to fill empty space; the lyrics catechize or teach us about our faith. Help your children to become familiar with your favorite hymns, and talk about the meaning of the lyrics.]
- “nurture their inner life. Attend to your whole child; don’t neglect his or her spiritual self. Worship brings our spiritual selves to life.”
[Children need to recognize the unseen or invisible realities that we mention in the Nicene Creed when we say that God is the Creator of “all things visible and invisible.” The Mass invites us to explore mystery. Arrive early and sit in silence to invite children into the mystery of God’s presence.]
- “feed them on the journey. Our children will face many challenges in their lives. Jesus offers his very self to them to strengthen, encourage, and free them no matter what comes.”
[Children need to recognize Sunday Mass as more than an obligation; they need to see it as a source of nourishment. Be sure to communicate—both verbally and non-verbally—how the Eucharist nurtures you.]
- “help them find their true home. God longs for the whole family to gather around the table. In the Eucharist, we realize that we are all one in God.”
[Help your child to see that the reason we go to Mass is because we are indeed broken and in need of fixing. Invite them to see that all those gathered around the table are in search of healing and that the Church is not a “museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.”]
Finally, I offer you a little bonus! Here are some thoughts about why we go to Mass from my upcoming book, Living the Sacraments: Finding God at the Intersection of Heaven and Earth (available from Loyola Press this Fall):
We are a people “in recovery”—in need of a new narrative to replace the narrative of “stinking thinking” that led to our addiction to sin. In twelve-step groups, one of the most critical components of this recovery is attending regular meetings. While a variety of reasons are given for the necessity of attending regular meetings, these are some of the most compelling:
- Addiction is a lonely, self-centered disease. It is important to find healing within the context of relationships that the meetings provide.
- It is important to share your recovery with newcomers lest they be left to fend for themselves.
- Regular attendance at meetings keeps one focused on recovery, helps reduce relapse, and keeps one in his or her “right mind.”
- Through regular attendance, one can find inspiration in the recovery of others.
- Meetings provide a safe and healthy environment for working on recovery.
- There is collective strength in people working together in a group toward recovery.
- We need the support of others when cravings arise.
- Regular attendance enables one to take stock of where he or she is in the recovery process.
- Isolation, which is at the heart of addictions, is overcome by regular attendance at meetings.
- Regular attendance enables one to go back to his or her humanity and focus on core values such as acceptance, faith, trust, honesty, courage, willingness, humility, forgiveness, freedom, perseverance, patience, and love.
- Addiction is chronic; one is never “cured.”
I contend that each of these compelling reasons for regularly attending and participating in twelve-step meetings can and should be applied to attending and participating in a weekly celebration of the Eucharist. We go to Mass to be healed, to be saved, to experience “recovery” from our human addiction to sin.