Daily Mass, daily life

On the whole, daily Mass is attended by older people, single people, and professionals on their way to work. I don’t fit that profile. I’m still in the thick of my life, with endless responsibilities at home and beyond.

I’ve sometimes thought that the best Marian title for me to employ is one that doesn’t exist: Our Lady of Perpetual Exhaustion. When people tell me how busy they are, I just smile.

I used to pine for the day when things would change, but when they didn’t, I just accepted my life as it is—well, mostly. As St. Francis De Sales taught, holiness consists in fulfilling one’s daily responsibilities well, in the presence of God, and for His glory. For me, it’s been enough of a struggle to do that. So, for the past 25 years, I’ve prayed and ministered and pursued other things within the limits and according to the framework of my vocation to marriage and family life.

Anyone who is actively engaged in ministry of any kind must pray. I’ve known that God has wanted me to attend daily Mass for years. It just never seemed possible to me. My circumstances didn’t accommodate it. Even though it’s only six or seven minutes to go from my door to Mass at the closest parish, somehow, that trip has taken me more than 10 years to make. The funny thing is that while there are a host of “legitimate” reasons I didn’t go to daily Mass for all those years, when it comes right down to it, there weren’t really any at all.

When I still had children of pre-school age, I felt that taking them to that many Masses would not only be difficult for me, but might actually have some negative results for the kids. It wasn’t that I couldn’t trust them to behave, or even that I was afraid they would hate going. It’s that I convinced myself that making a habit out of going to Church every day would somehow reduce it to, well, a habit. I also feared that pulling them along with me could give them something to rebel against later. I knew several women who had taken their young kids to daily Mass, only to have them push back against going to Sunday Mass a few years later. In addition, I was almost always dealing with three different school schedules. The drop offs and pick ups and driving to activities already made it difficult to get anything done at home. So, I resolved that the appropriate time for me to attend daily Mass was when I entered the promised land — that is, when the last of our children was in school all day.

I had a whole list of things I looked forward to doing when our youngest went to school. And while I considered daily Mass to be high on that list, it simply didn’t happen. All the time I thought I’d have never materialized. The few times I tried going to Mass at 9 a.m., I found myself back-logged and pressured for the rest of the day. Earlier Masses interfered with getting the kids to school. But when I started parish work four years ago, I tried again. I thought maybe the 11:30 at another nearby parish would work, but I only made it once or twice.

I’ve always been a daily communicator, but it’s only recently that I have finally become a daily communicant. There was no dramatic change in my life that suddenly made it possible. I just made the decision this September to make it happen. Andrew and I used to trade off taking our high school students to the train station to catch the 6:30 a.m. to Boston. When it was his turn to drive, I stayed in bed until the last possible moment. When I took them, I almost always put a coat on over my pajamas to make the trek. (Some of my outfits in the winter were pretty laughable.) It finally occurred to me that if I just got up and dressed, I could go to Mass. Now, I get up at the 6:03 traffic report, am out of the shower by the next one at 6:13, and walking towards the door at 6:23 to take kids to the train. Mass is at 6:45. At 7:15 I’m home, in plenty of time to help pack lunches and leave with the next group of children for school. By 8:20, I’ve already been to Mass and am fully—and spiritually—prepared for the day.

I have to admit that there are mornings when my mind wanders off long enough that I don’t know which Eucharistic prayer is being offered, or what the reading was. I still have to make the choice to go every day, and sometimes that presents a momentary temptation to stay home and drink my coffee. But if I’m there when the opening bell rings, I feel as if I’m at Mass with others who are on the same retreat that never ends. In word and sacrament, Jesus is there. I’m just sorry it took me so long to join Him.?