Time was, your parents took (dragged) you to church, you sat (suffered) through the mass, and you believed (bought) everything the priest said, if you were listening, and if you weren't fighting with your brothers or sisters and inevitably getting separated by your mother.
Now this may sound like a cynical beginning to a put down of the institution of church, but let me set the record straight....I am a strong advocate of attending church, and in the messages I receive therein. In other words, I'm a believer. And my most fervent prayer would have to be that my children will have strong faith as they enter into adulthood.
That having been said, I'm also no dummy. I know times have changed. My eyes are wide open, and I see that the world of organized religion needs help. People don't go to church just because it's Sunday.
Attendance in church is so low, you can get a seat on Christmas without arriving an hour early! My parents had eight children who are now adults with children of their own and I don't think half of us attend church regularly. This generation simply does not do what they do not want to do, and they do not want to sit through an hour long service that frankly bores them. My family is no exception.
I was beginning to get so much grief about having to "sit through" church that I was not forcing the issue anymore, and I found myself not attending mass. It was so much easier to stay home and not have to hear how they couldn't understand the priest, and how it's the same thing week after week. I began to tell myself it was okay to skip it, maybe sleep in a little longer, maybe not get out of my pajamas quite so early. Things change right?
But eventually it did not sit right with me. I wanted them to get that feeling of peace and that all was right with the world that I always felt in church. We belonged there, buy how? How was I going to get them to go and not resent it? That would set in motion a lifetime of separation from the church.
So I did what I always do when something doesn't fit anymore. I shopped for a new one. I shopped for a new church. We needed a better fit. We needed to come away feeling good about ourselves, feeling good about the messages we were receiving, and liking the people sending the messages. And most importantly my children had to enjoy it. I know that sounds kind of selfish. They had to enjoy church? Yes! And why not? Was it asking too much to find a priest that made learning about the word of God interesting, relevant, and maybe even humorous? I didn't think so. And thankfully, I found what I was looking for.
I found a church with warmth, humor and love, though honestly the messages were exactly the same. It's amazing how one churches approach can be radically different from another, even when sending the same message.
So we attend mass now, and there isn't nearly as much moaning and groaning anymore. We feel rejuvenated when we leave church now, and I feel like I'm fulfilling one of the biggest responsibilities I have as a Mom by introducing them to God. And now I can sit back and relax during that hour of mass and let the priest take over, until my daughters start giggling uncontrollably and I have to separate them.
Well, some things never change.