One of our favorite families is Catholic. They have three daughters who love our children and are willing to babysit for us all the time, making us big fans of theirs. Recently, the middle daughter was confirmed into the Catholic Faith. It was the first time our children had gone to Mass.
Let me give you some background as to what our children experience every Sunday when we go to church. We go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Mormons. (You should say “the Mormons” with a little lilt in your voice. Thank you.) Our Sunday services are three hours long, but we have three different classes. Our congregation starts with Sacrament meeting in the chapel. Our chapels are very plain. If they have windows, they are plain glass or textured glass so you can’t see through them, but they have basically no decorative value. We sit in a pew for an hour and ten minutes. Fifteen minutes into the service, we will have the sacrament that is passed around on trays. We bring coloring books, picture books, or church magazines to entertain the kids. Occasionally, Iron Man or a storm trooper may make it into my church bag as well. Our children wait for the sacrament and then can color or read until the rest of the meeting is up. Generally, our children only have to sit there for forty to forty-five minutes. It is the longest hour of parents’ lives, but it is generally manageable. Fruit snacks can be administered if in desperation.
The chapels are built so that sound is muffled and one needs a microphone to be heard in the back. It is built for families with small children, in my opinion. If your child does become unruly, you can take them to the foyer and people in the chapel generally cannot hear them. Most chapels have been built in this century with children in mind, in my opinion. I do not find cathedrals to have the same characteristics.
We walked into the cathedral and found it to be full. 54 youth would be confirmed which is an unseemly number. We split up and I took Katherine and Seth with me. Kevin and James sat two rows back. Our favorite family sat in between us. We had asked a woman to move over so we could sit together, but she complained she wouldn’t be able to see because of a huge pillar. I’m not sure why she didn’t move in toward the center of the aisle, but we ended up divided, nonetheless. I had my church bag with me and I was told Mass is generally one hour, so I was feeling fairly secure. I passed a church magazine back for James to read and got out coloring books and crayons for the kids.
I took a moment to look around and I noticed that most families with children were sitting on the sides. They were mostly in the back on the left, as well. I began wondering about that when the cathedral doors opened and the procession began. The knights of Columbus came in first and my three year old noticed they had swords. He very loudly let me know that all of the men had swords and Katherine asked me why they had swords. She wanted to know if they killed you if you were bad. I answered that although I was unsure why they had swords, I’m pretty sure it was to protect the church and not to kill sinners. Plus, they looked like they could be bought off anyhow.
Then the youth being confirmed walked in along with an alter boy with incense. Katherine did not enjoy the incense. She commented VERY loudly about how she did not enjoy the incense. Finally everyone came in and we would be able to sit down. I thought my kids would now act as they do every Sunday and quietly occupy themselves, but that didn’t quite happen.
After about fifteen minutes, Seth realized there were windows with pictures all around him. He started yelling out what he was seeing. He especially liked the snake hanging out with Adam and Eve. I tried to get him to whisper but that must be an ability developed at age four. It was at this time that I also realized that cathedrals are not built with noisy children in mind. They are built with organs and choirs in mind. When beautiful music is played, it is wonderous to hear the echoes and reverberation. When children are calling out animals in the stain glass windows, the echoes and reverberations are not wonderous. It is embarrassing and people sitting around you who don’t have children, look at you as though they wished the Knights of Columbus still used their swords. Let’s just say when it was time for everyone to wish everyone else blessings and to give hugs, no one came near me.
Due to the amount of confirmations, Mass lasted two hours. I lasted 1.5. I took my children to the foyer, but the cathedral doors are left open and it echoes here as well. Katherine started yelling that she wanted what was in the basket until I explained that people were putting things in. She then wanted communion and seeing as I don’t know the rules of communion, I said no.
We ended up outside. The wind started up and Katherine and Seth started to cry because they were cold. We went back inside and people had moved around so now our whole family could sit together. We made it. It ended and we left the cathedral. They had cake and I ate four pieces.
Kevin loved the ceremony of Mass. He listened to every word. He asked me if I listened to the sermon and I wanted to punch him. I have to admit that I was not feeling any Christian feelings toward my husband at that time. The sugar rush helped enough so that he lived, but I was thinking that being at a Cathedral anyhow, it would be fairly easy to get him his last rites. I showed mercy and he lived to fight another day.
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