Another Holy Day of (pant, pant) Obligation

Behold, our traditional observation of this wonderful solemnity:

Husband wakes up early, brings two of three high school kids to school A in town B, where they can’t come in late because they have a morning concert in school D and the bus leaving School A won’t wait. He comes home, calls schools A, B, and C about lateness of Kids 1, 5, 6,7, and takes them to early Mass at Church 1 in town B. Also takes baby, because he is superman. Comes home, drops off kids, goes to work in town D. I pack up Kids 1, 9, and 10 and bring them to town B to drop off Kid 1 at work, then take the other two to lunch at Wendy’s because it is Kid 9’s birthday, and then we go to Mass at Church 2 in town B, and then go home. We all go to the bathroom. Then we pack up Kids 9 and 10 and go to School C in Town C, where we pick up Kids 6, 7, and 8, then swing by the library in Town B to pick up Kid 5 who goes to School B, and then pick up Kid 2 who has walked from the bus stop to her doctor appointment in Town B. Then we go back home (Town A), wolf down some hot dogs (leaving kid 4 at home since he already went to Mass and doesn’t sing), scramble into our pretty dresses, hoping kids 2 and 3 have made it home on the bus, and swing by Kid 1’s work in Town B (hoping she has eaten at some point) and bring her with us (not forgetting the cookies which Kid 3 baked last night!) to the Unitarian Church where Kids 5, 6, 7, and 8 have their concert and bake sale; and drop off Kids 2 and 3 so they can walk across town in the dark and the cold to late Mass at Catholic Church 1. After the concert, we drive home, drop off Kids 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 in town A and pick up Kids 2 and 3 in Town B. AND THEN WE ALL GO HOME. And then my husband comes home from Town 4, and we open birthday presents for Kid 9, assuming we’re still able to make our muscles function enough to sit up.

(And no, there was no way of just prudently planning ahead to make things simpler. This was planning ahead. We couldn’t go to a Vigil Mass yesterday, because yesterday looked a lot like today, except with a different kid going to work, my husband having to travel to Town E for work, and one kid going to Roller Derby.)

So when someone asks how we are observing this important feast day, I give a little shudder and say, “Oh, we’re just going to get to Mass.”

And that is pretty good.

When we were figuring out the logistics, I honestly considered skipping Mass. It’s a war of obligations, and the kids truly couldn’t back out of their concerts or be late; but since we’re all healthy and able-bodied and no one is pregnant and the van is running, and my husband was ready and willing to make it happen, I realized that we could do it, and so we should.

We may not be wearing Marian colors or lighting special candles at our charming home altar, or making flower crowns or crafting special crafts; but we are putting forth a huge effort to get to Mass. And this tells our kids (and ourselves!), “THIS IS IMPORTANT.”

So if you had a hard time getting to Mass but you did it anyway, you honored Our Lady. If it was a tight squeeze and maybe you stumbled in late and breathless, with hungry, overtired, confused kids, you showed them, “THIS IS IMPORTANT. This is worth doing. This is The Thing You Make Time For.” And you honored Our Lady! Mass is where Mary wants you to be. Anything else is just icing on the cake.

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16 thoughts on “Another Holy Day of (pant, pant) Obligation”

  1. Sometimes I wish we lived in a less populated, less urban area, but then I read this insanity and I think we’ll stay put. Living where we do, and with high school kids who’ll have Mass at their (Catholic) school, difficult HDO logistics are foreign to us – even with all the parish closings, we’ve still got a dozen different churches within a twenty minute drive of our home with Mass times running 6:00 am to 9 pm. Kids still in the parish school are off and we have a nice leisurely day making cookies, etc. But, man oh man, can I ever sympathize with the Christmas concert craziness! We now have five drivers and three cars and still there always seems to be a monkey wrench – two recitals the same day, a kid who “has to has to has to” be somewhere else, somebody who needs to go to the ER, etc. I remember a few years ago saying to my sister that December was starting to bother me almost as much as baseball season (and that’s a lot).

  2. So then what do you do when, after all this, the priest only talks about Pearl Harbor (and NOT the special reason we are all at mass on a Thursday), and then inserts his own hippy-dippy words into the consecration (making you wonder if it is even licit)?

    1. You will be sorry you stayed at that priest’s masses. Just when you think it can’t get more difficult, now you have to travel to get to a good parish

  3. I pulled all my kids out of school, we went to Mass and then to a museum to look at Marian Renaissance art. I have 5 kids, 11 to 3 and they aren’t getting special cookies, or a meal, or whatever. And we were only able to do the museum because the 3 year old and special needs 6 year old weren’t being their usual crazy-making selves. I figure, if I have a larger than average family, and we freaking *get to Mass* every Sunday and holy day of obligation, then we’re right where we should be and everything else is gravy.

  4. Thank you. I sometimes fall into the Internet rabbit-hole of web sites that have special recipes to celebrate Our Lady, and yesterday I found myself worrying that my planned spaghetti dinner was red sauce and not white sauce, you know, to honor Mary and all, and why can’t I pull myself together to plan a white dinner or at least a cake for Our Lady? What kind of homeschooling Catholic mom am I? Slacker.

    But then I found a vigil Mass we were all able to attend, and when we got into the car afterwards I realized that there are few things more satisfying than making it to Mass on a HDO. It’s like the spiritual version of getting to the dentist every six months like they expect you to do. I grew up in a nominally Catholic family; we went to Mass on Sunday, and on Christmas and Easter, but I do not for the life of me remember attending Mass on holy days of obligation. I’d see those services listed in the missal and be puzzled. And that is probably why to this day I confuse the Annunciation with the Immaculate Conception. Oy.

    So my kids may not get a blue-tinted, white frosted cake on December 8th, or special crafts on every saint’s day, but at least they will understand what a holy day of obligation is.

  5. Thank you, Simcha. I managed to take my autistic son to Mass today (he’s 10), while juggling a bunch of other schedules. My son had a tantrum in the middle, because of the schedule disruption and because it was a new parish (ours only offered one Mass), and we had to leave early. I was in tears. Your post reminded me that it was worth it.

    1. Oh, dear Gina. Don’t cry about an autistic kid not making it through Mass. You got him there. You did what you could. Your efforts do not go unnoticed in Heaven. We have an autistic daughter. I am grateful for our priest and our parish. We are a relatively small parish, and people are kind and understanding about our daughter. I hope it is the same for you.

      1. Thank you so much, Leigh! I am touched your kindness.
        Our usual parish is wonderful–but they only have one mass on holy days, and we had to go to a “strange, new one.” Hence the tantrum 🙂

  6. As converts we tried for a decade to be the ultimate Catholic Family because we were so happy to have so much Truth available. Then we collapsed from exhaustion. Now we focus on the precepts and it’s still hard to breathe. Thank you for documenting your juggling.

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