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Sunday, June 15, 2008

God-Given Distraction to Prayer

Matt and Clara"For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. " -- Isaiah 56:7

This is a picture of me with my youngest daughter. She is one week and one day shy of 19 months old as of the taking of this picture in the back of Church during Mass. I am a shutterbug but I didn't bring my camera to Church, I decided to take it off my Camera phone as a way of reminding me of something that came to me as I was walking from the front of Church.

Yes, I was walking from the front of Church, during Mass, with a screaming and unhappy toddler (well, really she is still just a baby but technically a toddler) to the very back of Church and out into the foyer. We didn't go to our regular Church and the Cry Room is off to the side at this Church and I didn't want to distract the people peacefully worshipping God in the Cry Room during the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. Anyway, I digress.

So, as I am holding my crying, with tears, daughter and carrying her to the back of Church I am easily able to whisper along with Father the words of the prayer, directing my mind on the wonder of this little creation in my arms. This same little creation that was able to get into her mother's purse (a veritable treasure trove of messy fun, just think lipstick) at least 3 times, get loose change out of my pocket, perform gymnastics, practice her yoga and get into the aisle a couple times. Well, that is just a normal day with kids and going to Church.

They are doing their own thing with their 1 minute 32 second attention span. That is just how it works with kids. However, no matter how much of my attention they distract I have learned to pray with this distraction. It didn't come automatically and I had to work at it, learning not to get frustrated and remembering that your kids haven't gone through years of religious formation and aren't getting ready for their final proffessions at a religious order helps a bit.

Remebering that your children are a blessing from God and being willing to step out and hold them is always helpful. These children are my God-Given distraction to help with prayer. I have also gotten rid of broadcast television in my house because I have children (I have benefited a bit as well). The distractions that I used to have when I watched TV were amazing. I can listen to radio all day but TV has the ability to just stick into your lower level consciousness, well it does basically hypnotize you.

Anyway, digressing again. The signs on the doorway to the Church have the above Bible quote and below it asks, "Respectful Silence is Requested" or something to that effect to allow for prayer. The only thing is, is the distracted silence of most of us really respectful? When someone is staring at the people around them, picking their nose, chewing gum, texting in mass, and I could just keep going on the things I have seen when I am standing in the back corner of Church holding a toddler. I can only imagine how hard it is for Father to look past these distractions.

Wow, I am having trouble not digressing. Remebering that God is present when I stand in Church, silently or with a crying Child helps much and whispering the words in my Child's ears as I hold them in my lap. The biggest joys of parenthood are those days walking in the back of Church, holding a toddler and whispering the prayers into their mind even though it would be easier to just let them play.

Teaching by example. Hearts speaking to hearts as a friend of mine just took as his episcopal motto. Reach out to your children in Mass and remember that they are only little and in need of wrestling for a short period of time. Love every minute of that God given distraction and repeat every word under your breath and stand in awe of God's great love for you and be humbled by the creation in your arms.

Oh, and when the Priest says, "The Mass is ended, Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord." It is ok to emphatically acclaim, "Thanks BE TO GOD!!!"

Under the Mercy,

Matthew S.


lwestin said...

When my kids were younger, I often used to joke that I had used up all my 'Grace' before I left the CHurch! My youngest (of 8) is now 7 and he's still a bit wiggly!

Anonymous said...

Amen, Brother!

Matt Doyle said...

Thank you, that post resonated with me, even if it is mum doing most of the hard work!