Another holy day of (pant, pant) obligation

[This essay was written several years ago, for a different Marian solemnity; but the basic idea still applies!]

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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6 thoughts on “Another holy day of (pant, pant) obligation”

  1. Here! Here! Couldn’t make my daughters school Mass. But managed to make 9.30am at our local Parish with my husband (who had to rush back to work straight after the final prayer), a surprisingly well-behaved 2 year old who slept on dads shoulder most of the time (which meant we didn’t sit in the crying room- I hate crying rooms), and an 8 year old who stayed home because she had a ballet exam that afternoon. Her piety was lovely. 😜 Mass was full. The reading of The Visitation was beautiful and never grows old. Father, an African seminarian, always delivers the Homily with a smile and sometimes ends his words with getting the Parishioners to sing- which is nice because the Parish at this time of day usually comprises of white worshippers above the age of 60years old. Singing with Father gets them out of their comfort zones. The soprano-ish singer stayed mostly in tune. The Ave Maria was beautiful. I think the bare minimum is Mass and try to throw a thought and nod Mary’s way throughout the day. Heaven doesn’t ask for much.

  2. We attend daily Mass, so you would think that going to a Holy Day of Obligation Mass would be no big deal. But our 2nd son is autistic and currently can’t stand music at church. Well not at our parish anyway. This is why daily Mass is so wonderful for us, there’s no music. But not today. He’s already upset because of the music, then something happens with the speakers and there is that horrid feedback noise. He screams and covers his ears. The Deacon fixes it so fast, we tell him it’s okay, Deacon fixed it. The music ends and it happens again, Deacon is doing something else and can’t fix it. It takes the couple doing the music an eternity (to him, to us, to everyone listening to him scream) to fix it. But the damage is done, he’s lost it. He keeps saying “no Catholic Church! Goodbye Catholic Church!” And pointing to the exit. Because where the piano and those doing the music sit there is a statue of Jesus and Mary, and he because he doesn’t know the couple’s names he’s also yelling “no Jesus! No Mary!” My husband holds him, tries all things we know to calm him and just suffers through the meltdown that includes biting and pinching. He finally calms towards the end, hands away from his head, looking at me smiling about to say something to me and then as the Communion hymn ends, the noise happens again. 🤦🏻‍♀️😞😭 We left right after the priest and Deacon. It was not our best Mass, or our best morning, but I pray to God that we showed him that it’s important to be there. That God wants him there even when it’s hard for him and that showing love to Mary is showing love to Christ.

    Thank you for this reprint, it may have made me cry, but it was definitely something I needed to read today!

    1. This was very appropriate for us today. My husband found out there was an 11:30 Mass at the chapel at his workplace, which sounded great! We could meet up with Dad during his long day of work, get Mass in, have a little snack or something and then head home. So it takes me about 25-30 minutes to get from our house to work. Husband suggested we meet at 11:15, so I planned to leave at 10:45. Having some eerie foresight, I asked the youngest (who is the slowest at getting ready, because Reasons) to brush his teeth at 10:30 and get his socks on, while I rummaged around for my purse and changed clothes.

      My phone rang, and it turned out they had changed the time of the Mass to 11, because the chaplain had to get to another noon Mass on another part of the base. Time: 10:40 am. Husband said we could probably get there, just a little late maybe, but it would still count for mass. This particular chaplain doesn’t mess with music when he’s doing mass at this building, because there’s no place for it, it’s literally in an auditorium. So we’d have less wiggle room because no entrance music or Glory to God. Eeep.

      I told the other kids to get ready NOW and we were in the car in, I kid you not, two minutes. Got there just in time to walk in during the Gospel reading, so I think it counted! Yay us!

      1. Our old parish priest, who would much rather everyone was punctual, but understood life happens, especially to families, said it counts as long as you’re there to listen to the Eucharistic prayer, so it did count!

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