Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Daily Dose

Several years ago, when I was overwhelmed by the day-to-day mothering and homeschooling of three children 5 and under and a husband who traveled frequently, I started setting aside Tuesday nights (when DH was in town) for me. I always went first to 7pm mass, a quiet, simple mass in the tiny chapel. Then, I would meet a friend or wander in the bookstore, soak up adult conversation or silence, and return home a little more sane and capable.

And then BigBro's Kindergarten fall hit, our activities ramped up, and Tuesday nights meant soccer practice and Scout meetings and there was no way I could escape to the quiet of the chapel for mass.

So, I did what I had previously thought completely unthinkable: I began getting up very early a few mornings each week, to attend mass before DH left for work. At first, I could manage only 1 or 2 mornings each week. I still had a toddler, who often slept with us, and I desperately needed to sleep when I could.

Over the next six months, morning mass became more and more important for me. I noticed a difference in me on the days I dragged myself out of bed made the effort to attend. And, slowly, over time, daily mass became... well, daily.

Summer came along, and I lost the 6:30 mass at my home parish. A refugee, I tried several nearby churches, finally settling on one about 2 miles from my house. It wasn't the same, and yet, it was.

I am now on my third summer at this other parish, and I noticed last week, with a little jump in my heart, just how encouraged I am by this faith community. I know only a few people by name, but I do recognize most, and I am recognized by most. I am comforted and encouraged by the presence of the same folks, sitting in the same spots, as last year. There is something about their faith and dedication that strengthens mine.

I admire the people I know who are able to maintain a deep, daily prayer life on their own. I know several folks who wake early for prayer and exercise before work. I know others who keep sacred a daily walk and rosary. Left to my own devices, I seem to flounder. I need the external discipline of mass. I need the community of faith as much as I need the pockets of quiet that Father so brilliantly stretches out in a 27 minute mass.

I started out attending Tuesday mass, looking for a little peace in my life. In the past few years, I've learned that I am strengthened as much by these small faith communities as I am by the Eucharist and prayer. In order to maintain my mental and spiritual health, I need my daily dose, amidst a community of fellow travelers on this path.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I don't go to Mass daily, but at least a few times a week. And at first Mass did not seem like a community thing to do. But after all these years, I get and give support in the community of Mass goers. A few of those folks I only know from 6:30 Mass although I am involved in lots of things at the parish, but 6:30 Mass is the place where we intersect in our lives.

    Going to early Mass helps ground my day.