What to Expect this Sunday?

St. Charbel’s Monastery, Catholic Church, Sydney, Australia.

Churches are open! Glory be to God!

Our children are returning to school. Work prospects are on the horizon… we can even plan a small holiday somewhere near now! How exciting!!!

And daunting…

Wait a minute… we are going back to some stressors… we are changing one type of stress with another type. We are leaving behind the stress of staying at home, attending our family 24/7 with no respite and not even a “relaxing” moment in exchange of the stress of getting all the kids ready, getting bags with essentials ready, tantrums outside home when you will feel most vulnerable in your Parenting skills and your kids overwhelmed with the new enviroments, and a big etcetera.

Church visits won’t be different. Let’s be clear about that.

This Sunday Churches will open up for ALL. But COVID19 is still a really important concern, specially if you have children or relatives with vulnerable health issues, so we all need to follow the small rules our political and religious leaders had to put in place for the safety and peace of the members of our community. Let us start with that, let us start with respecting and loving our neighbours -not just the one you share a postcode- but the brothers and sisters in Christ we have around us.

Now, for a retuning church goer with small children (like myself) this would not be our only concern. When I was finally getting my children used to some sort of routine for Sundays, the lockdowns started all over again with all the struggles we are so familiar with.

Returning to Church WILL be challenging and as a community we need to encourage each other to attend and embrace the extra tasks involved. If you have a friend with small children who is reluctant to go to church because of the struggle of making new changes in their children’s life and are preferring to stay at home and keep the livestreams available, at least for a little extra while, talk to them and LISTEN to them… we need to support each other in these transition.

Let us remember too that Churches are not able to be packed due to the space restrictions as well, so  some parents might find it even harder if they do all that preparation and find themselves unable to be in the presence of God due to the Church reaching capacity.

But if you DO make it, then there is another issue. Children are not used to stay quiet for almost an hour. Issues WILL raise. Kids WILL be loud. Parents WILL be walking around, in and out of the church. Kids WILL do silly noises and chuck tantrums. And even though parents are initially excited to go to Church, after being at Mass for 20 to 35 min trying desperately to teach their children to soak up some of the Holy Presence of Jesus Christ while they try to do the same for themselves, parents might (will) be hyperventillating behind their masks because of the emotional stress they are going through with their (supposedly) “misbehaved” children.

Parents, your kids are not misbehaved! Keep calm. Your children are just being children! God created them exactly the way they are.

That loud child will use that voice for either preaching or being the one reading at Mass one day. That explorer little kid that likes to touch everything and run everywhere, might be the person who, one day, will be going around the neighbourhood giving a helping hand to someone in need. That little kid who sings loudly in a different tone and in the wrong parts of the Mass, might be a member of the Choir one day, singing praises to Our Lord. Finally, all those “imperfections”, attitudes and behaviours are just as natural in their growth as the way your children grew other skills, like when they started eating: first with bottles, then hands -making messes-, then spoons -also making messes- and no long after -and without you realising- they will be eating calmly and cleanly at the Table with all of you…

So here we are, at Church, at the table with our Lord, offering our imperfect family, our messes, to the Lord who initially gave it to us in the first place.

Our purpose is to seek God’s will, God’s love and God’s grace. And what might seem a moment of discomfort, it is meant to sanctify us, it is meant to make us look TO GOD.

He knows. He knows your family. He knows your children. He knows your heart. But we know HIS heart too, and for HIM seeing you visiting His House, with your precious children to teach them to KNOW HIM, pleases the Lord.

God has NOT lost hope in the World. If He didn’t want Humanity to continue He wouldn’t allow any kids to be born… but He does. He loves kids, He treasures families, He wants vocations to be born from families: priesthood, motherhood, service… Oh, so many!

That is Our role, ladies and gentlemen. We take them to Church because it is our job, the most important one, to introduce GOD to our children.

God’s Word doesn’t expire.
God’s Word doesn’t change it’s mind.
God’s Word is ONE, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Read it.
Learn it.
Act according to it…

Go to Church.
(Even if you spend the whole time trying to not get distracted)

Go to Confession.
(Even if it has been THAT long and you cannot remember everything you need to say)

Pray at Home.
(Even if your kids don’t pay attention for the whole time. Even if your kids’ rosaries ends up flying everywhere because they think it’s a toy. Even if your kids cannot pronounce words properly… or refuse to say the prayer at all).

Teach them by example.

And the only way to be a Good example is by praying for it, by cultivating your own faith to pass it on.

God sees you.
God loves you.
God will reward you.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

See you on Sunday at Mass!… (well, at least I will try!!)

God bless you,

Liza, a Maronite Mum

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