I was planning on writing on going as a family to daily Mass and I noticed a few recent articles discussing why parents don’t take fussing babies out of church and others encouraging parents to take their young kids to church. I always find these discussions interesting but frustrating, especially since my two oldest are super outgoing and my second was a very fussy baby; I could never nurse her inside the church because she was so loud. At age two she is still fairly loud and spends half of Sunday Mass in back being held. Our third baby is the first I can nurse quietly in the pew and I look forward to a calm toddler when she is older. That being said, we have found that going to daily Mass with our whole family is one of the best things we do as a family.
My husband and I have been going to daily Mass together since we were dating, and while having children makes it more difficult, but it is totally worth it. We don’t make it everyday (and usually attempt to sleep in on Saturdays), but even two or three times a week makes a huge difference for us. In our years of going to daily Mass I have seen a number of moms and their kids at daily Mass, but rarely do I see the whole family there. (I am very impressed with these moms who go alone, because if I were to attempt to go alone with the kids, as soon as I tended to the baby’s various needs, the two year old would be running up the aisle.) I think it would be a wonderful thing for the Church and every individual parish if families attending daily Mass in addition to Sunday Mass was encouraged and widely done. And now I give my six reasons to attend daily Mass as a family.
1. Daily Mass teaches your family self-discipline: Having to “sit quiet and still” (this is what we aim for with our four year old) at Mass more than just on Sunday helps build the habit of good Mass behavior. It is shorter than Sunday Mass, so it helps children build stamina and self-discipline for the longer Sunday liturgy. I have noticed that at Sunday Mass my children have lost all attention by the middle of the homily, but at daily Mass they last through to the end and notice more things. It also teaches parents how to pray in a different way than they used to, prayer is an internal and external thing, and having to wrangle children through all of Mass definitely builds those interior praying abilities.
2. Repetition makes the liturgy something familiar and loved: More frequent attendance of Mass will familiarize your children with what is going on in the Mass and help them to pay better attention and understand the liturgy more fully. The Mass will become something they look forward to and expect on a daily basis. What is better for anybody than a desire to commune with God in the liturgy He gave us in order to worship Him?
3. Hearing Scripture EVERYDAY– Your family will become familiar with Scripture through hearing it proclaimed in the readings at Mass. I love to see my daughters perk up when they hear a familiar passage. We reinforce the Gospel we hear at Mass by reading it again after dinner. Then we often will discuss the story, as our four year old is full of questions.
4. Sacramental Grace– This one is the most important reason. The opportunity for frequent reception of the Eucharist (when we are free from serious sin) is the best gift given to us by the Church. It makes us better people and better parents. And when our children are of age to receive, they too can receive this grace that will help them spend eternity with God.
5. Family Unity-“A family that prays together, stays together.” That is the phrase, right? Praying in your home together builds unity, but even more-so does the public prayer of the liturgy. In the Mass we pray the along with the same sacrifice that has been made for 2000 years since the Last Supper, uniting the whole Church as one; this same liturgy unites our families together when we go together.
6. Renewing the Church– I have always heard positive comments at daily Mass from the other daily Mass attendees. If others are negative, they have always been charitable enough not to say so. Even the priests saying Mass have always been very encouraging of us coming to daily Masses. In general, those whom I have seen at daily Mass are middle-aged and older; or they are the school children from the parish school. I suspect that for most of the people who attend daily Mass, seeing a family together at daily (not morally-obligated Sunday Mass) gives them hope. Imagine what it would be like if many families were at every daily Mass? It would remind us all that the Mass is a place for public prayer, and that having all ages at Mass is having the whole Church represented. If someone needs a quiet place for private prayer, then a quiet adoration chapel would be a better option than the public worship of the Church. People should not be discouraging others from taking their kids to Church; we do not want the Church to be known as a “Contraceptive Sanctuary.”
I am not saying that going to daily Mass is an easy thing to do, but what good thing starts off as easy? For some families, work and school might make Mass together impossible, but some members of the family might be able to go. It is hard to get out of bed to make it to a morning Mass, but if your kids are up by seven every morning, why not try for the eight o’clock Mass? When I was in college I sometimes went to a 7 am Mass at a local parish, and every time I went there was a large Catholic family ranging in ages from baby to high school. There is sometimes a noon Mass, which should end before one and then there is plenty of time for lunch. Also, some parishes have a 5 o’clock Mass, which a family could go to after work and school hours and still be home by six for dinner. Deciding to go to daily Mass does not mean you have to go everyday; start with a couple days a week in addition to Sunday and then slowly you will want to go more often and it will get easier and easier to take and make the time to go.