Once again, thanks to the new outbreak of Covid19 restrictions were enforced to all of us to basically stay home and not leave, and, once again, us Catholics were deprived of our visits to our Church.
When the Pandemic started in 2020 Churches all around the world stepped up and activated their resources and thanks to social media platforms we were blessed with having access to our normal Mass online. It was something new never seen or experienced before.
Easy! We just turned on the TV -or Phone or Tablet- and there it was. No one would noticed if you tuned in late, or if you were there early to get the best spot. No. No one noticed or cared. Everyone was so eager to BE there!
The thing is that even though the elderly had the access (once a few lessons were given to them), the vulnerable catholics who’s health prevented them to attend church (even in pre-pandemic times) had the access, us mums struggled with the whole scenario, specially if you had little ones.
Our kids terrorized us with tantrums to watch their shows, or interrupted us 1000 times for the 25th snack of the day (it’s not even 10am!), or just layed down or played with their noisy toys while the priest was consecrating the Eucharist… or just talking talking and more talking all while you are trying to read the Act of Consecration prayer… It felt like we weren’t there. Kids didn’t care. And us, as parents, couldn’t explain to them what was happening… We were still in our living room watching TV, so for them there is no difference, specially when you have 3 kids under 4 years old. Impossible to explain!
You could try to do as much as you can but there wasn’t a “lead up” to the mass. Routine for Sundays was same as the Monday to Saturday’s ones… no change.
For me was particularly hard because the last 3 months of my pregnancy I really didn’t go to Church due to a lot of issues on my last trimester, and the need to get 2 toddlers ready on time while carrying the weight. Because of it all I lost that contact and routine for Sundays. It was not a great lead up to my delivery. However, after delivering my 3rd kid, the Pandemic happened -surprisingly and with no warning- during that 6 weeks period where you need to “heal” physically and emotionally… so, really, I spent the first few months with my newborn in isolation, with 2 toddlers and my helpful husband.
We didn’t get into a proper routine so I was in a space that many mothers have being: survival mode activated. Sleep deprived, winging toddlers, COVID19 floating in the air, disinfecting groceries (yes, if you are reading this 5 years after 2020, yes, disinfecting groceries was a “thing” in this Pandemic), etc, so TV for Church was not a priority, and not because of lack of faith, or will, or access, but because it was to hard and it didn’t feel the same.
How watching God on my phone is “Holy” when on the same phone I watched or read news, or laughed at memes, or checked up stuff on Facebook or Instagram?. It felt weird and it didn’t feel right.
Dispensation or not, the fact that before the Pandemic happened Sunday was THE Day to get out makes a difference when you have kids. There was motivation: kids had breakie, (I scream for them to hurry up), kids get dressed (kids cry while brushing their hairs), mum gets ready for 4 (now 5, with bags full with nappies, bottles, wipes, etc), dad has breakie and entertained kids while mum gets the baby ready and gets herself ready as well. All of the sudden someone cries… maybe all at the same time or in turns, -depends-. I generally ended up with a few tears of frustration myself but when everyone was in the car, locked in their car seats ready to go to Church, you feel relieved, you made it!. It was an adventure and an experience: getting ready, drive there, see the big building, see everything around… Once Mass started you could see how everyone does the sign of the cross at the same time, see how everyone kneels down while the Consecration it’s happening, see how everyone goes in line to get the Eucharist, see how everyone is singing…
You can’t get that “experience” or teaching moments with your kids while at home, in their PJs, having snacks while a toy makes noise in the background…
Yes, it is a huge tool the Online Mass, but not good enough for some of us in the long run. My kids are losing that routine and lead up that were so special on Sundays. I want to take them soon when restrictions lift but I am not sure if I want to get the spot of someone who actually really needs to go.
Don’t I need to go too? – I wonder sometimes.
Mums are givers. We give everything from us and whithin us too. Body, Heart and Soul are for our families. We don’t rest, we stress. We want THEM to know Jesus like we know Him. But, what happens when we, as mums, loose Him? I don’t mean literally but I do miss mass. It was VERY hard to get there when Churches were open, but once there you realised it was worth the effort.
Last Sunday my husband went for a walk with the toddlers while I stayed with the newborn. Conviniently my newborn slept just 5 minutes before mass time. This time I didn’t brush off the feeling of turning the TV on to watch it… this time I ignored the pile of washing that I kept telling myself (lying to myself, actually) that I was going to fold and pack; I ignored the dishes that needed wash, I ignored housework, and instead of Martha I was a Mary and so, I sat down and watched mass by myself.
Yes, by myself. We, too, need that connection with God. I wouldn’t had that time if it wasn’t thanks to the Social Media tools. I needed this… because when the Priest was Consecrating the Eucharist I did close my eyes and prayed… no interruptions… And when it was time to take the Eucharist, for the first time since the Pandemic started, I actually READ the prayer Act Of Consecration with a heart full of God… and while I was reading it I cried… I cried not because I missed going out for mass, but because in my daily noisy and stressful life, I missed God… and while I was wiping my tears I heard the laughs of my kids returning from their walk with their dad… I smiled while I opened the door to my daughters running telling me “Mummy! we went for a walk with daddy” and so I hugged them…
We cannot pour our faith from an empty cup… we need God to fill it up so we can share it with our children… The peace of having that time connected with God, even if it was with the social media tools, was all I needed to refil. The rest is our responsability: keeping God daily in my heart by praying while I do the dishes, by putting background Catholic music while I chop the vegetables for the meal of the day, by signing catholic lullabays to my baby for him to sleep cuddled in my arms but knowing God cuddles him too, and brings peace to his mum: me… and to you too.
Jesus, I trust in you.
God’s timing is perfect.
When I am allowed to visit Him in the Tabernacule I will rejoice in my heart.
In the meantime I will keep looking after these little souls that He encomended me to bring them to Him. And when Churches open up again and I take my children back to His feet, I will offer them up to Him… while now I offer to Him the suffering of His absence, the frustration of the lockdown and the suffering of this weird disease that it is making hearts cold and it’s shaking our faith in Him and His perfect plan.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27: 1
Oh my Lord, Yours is the Glory! I KNOW!
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelations 1:8.
Glory to God always!
God bless you.
Liza, a Maronite Mum
(Originally published in June 2020.
Updated: Septemper 2021)