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16 Things You NEED in Your Kids’ Mass Bag

 

16 Things You Need in Your Kids Mass Bag

If you’re like me, feeling a hot mess most Sundays, just getting to church with the tiny army you and your husband created can feel like an amazing feat all on its own sometimes! But do you have a Mass bag? Oftentimes, we are asking ourselves the following each Sunday before we leave for church or in the parking lot…

Are their clothes clean?

Is one of my children wearing a superhero costume?

(this legitimately happened one Sunday and I marched straight to Father before Mass and said, sorry, but this is where we are right now. Said kiddo did end up taking off his costume before Mass started – he had his church clothes on underneath, but not before a LOT of curious looks were thrown our way.) ?

Are their clothes decently UNwrinkled?

Matching socks?

Shoes that fit? Weather appropriate?

Did everyone eat SOMETHING an hour before Mass started?

Did I check kid pockets before entering the church to remove oh, I dunno, some legos or bracelets?

Did everyone get that oh-so-necessary trip to the water fountain and make their bathroom trip before Mass started?

Now that the essentials are well in hand, let’s talk about the tools you’ll need IN the pew. That’s right…I’m talking about a small bag filled with some great books/toys you will be glad you have on hand when those littles get restless. And, believe you me, they DO get restless. Even my own decently behaved children are crawling the pews by the time the end-of-Mass announcements have begun. Though we have seven children (and #8 on the way in December), and the eldest being 23, the next one down being 18 and having served as an altar boy for nine years, we have had over two decades of cat herding littles in the pews. About 10 years ago, I finally put a bag together that contains ONLY what we need to get through Mass quietly with babies and toddlers in the pews, especially when we can’t always escape to the cry room or Nursing Mother’s Room. If you don’t already, I’m going to outline a few items we have in our Mass bag.


THE ESSENTIALS

Do you take a Mass bag with you for your littles?

Did I miss something you’d like to add? Share in the comments, friends!


THE EXTRAS

  • weekly tithe envelopes (even if you tithe electronically, the message it models to your kids and even those around you is important)
  • package of tissues
  • antibacterial gel
  • diaper, wipes, changing pad if necessary
  • wet wipes (if you don’t double up your baby wipes)
  • hair brush/comb (with hair gel for boys, and tangle spray, hair ties, and bows for girls…if you can spare the extras)

I NEED MORE INSPIRATION

Read Colleen’s take on this same topic from our archives.

Here’s another great read from Colleen about expectations in the pews.

Here’s a good one about just giving it all to Jesus in the pews.

Need some inspiration on raising Catholic children? Read THIS.

 

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The Bells and Smells of Mass – Why Our Senses Matter When We Worship

 

Our senses enhance our livesWe are “fearfully and wonderfully” made by God and His crafting of us is undeniably intricate. Our five senses give us a plethora of experiences with which to enjoy all of His creation. Our immediate surroundings provide much in the way of sensory pleasure – to the point that we often take them for granted. Similarly, our senses can also propel us back in time, where we are able experience past pleasures anew. Take a favorite song, for instance. A few musical notes and we are transported back in time – to our first love, senior prom, or a delightful vacation. We also relate to the memories evoked by the smell of a freshly baked apple pie or a favorite recipe – like Mom used to make. Even realtors have been known to employ this tendency to lure prospective buyers into a feeling of having ‘come home’.

In the same vein courting, celebrating special occasions or getting married, finds us taking great pains to entertain our senses . And what potential boss would we impress if we appeared for an interview in tattered jeans and a stained tee shirt? Would a suitor give us a second glance if we had unkempt hair and bad breath? Meanwhile we powder, lotion, and dress our babies in adorable outfits in an effort to enhance the velvet touch of their skin,  intoxicating scent, and cherub’s form.

As sensory creatures, the gift of our senses helps us experience the fullness of God’s creation. Therefore, our senses also come into play in our worship of God. We have at our disposal, many ways that we can both compliment our understanding of our ancient Liturgy and to show honor to God.

  • The architectural beauty of our churches illustrates that we have entered a sacred place. The formality of the edifice and the orderly ranks of pews speak to a certain structure and discipline.
  • Ornate statuary and the Stations of the Cross call to mind the faithful lives of saints, the virtues of the Blessed Mother, and the God Man, Jesus – who came to take away the sins of the world. And we see the crucifix as a poignant reminder of the ultimate price paid for our sins – both past and future.
  • The various colors of the priestly vestments give us a clue as to the season and the tone of our worship. White, red, green, violet, black, rose and gold all denote differing liturgical seasons, purposes or intents.
  • The Rubrics or General Instruction for the Roman Missal (GIRM) are a written manual that thoroughly choreographs postures, words, and actions during Holy Mass. In addition,  the Roman Missal itself provides the details of the words and actions of the celebrant (priest) during Mass by allowing him to simply ‘say the black, do the red’, as Fr. Zuhlsdorf of blogdom fame is fond of asserting.
  • The hymns, composed and chosen, illustrate what we believe, that we should do our best to raise our voices in His glory, and that we are there to sing His praises – not our own. If it becomes a concert or a prideful show of talent, we diminish this God-given gift that we are offering back to Him in song. It becomes about us and not about true worship. Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI has written some enlightening words concerning the Liturgy and Sacred Music in his book, The Spirit of the Liturgy.Our senses matter at Mass as well
  • Although they are an option (according to the priest’s preference), when they are used the bells at Mass gloriously appeal to our ears as a signal that something very special is happening. They announce that we should be still and turn our rapt attention to the greatest sacrifice ever made – Jesus giving His life for our sins and Himself to us as food. That we are once again at the foot of the cross – with Him!
  • Used frequently in the Latin Mass or during special times in the Novus Ordo, incense tickles our noses and captures our attention, both through smell and sight. As the smoke rises, our minds are drawn to the prayers ascending to Heaven in praise, petition, penitence and worship.
  • The clothing with which we choose to cover ourselves speaks to our recognition of appearing before our King, the Lord of Lords. As in the parable about the wedding garment, dressing for the occasion speaks to the reverence we feel, the homage we pay, and the respect that is demanded by merely existing in His presence. Veiling is also an optional, special acknowledgement of a woman’s humility and the gift of femininity. These efforts are not about finery but about putting our best foot forward to the best of our ability.

These and other manifestations of our senses are of greater importance in our worship than we sometimes acknowledge. Yet we have been given a perfect example, both in scripture and Tradition. Reverence for the House of His Father, certainly mattered to Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that,

“Jesus went up to the Temple as the privileged place of encounter with God” because “for him, the Temple was the dwelling of his Father, a house of prayer”.  When he saw the lack of decorum shown by the sellers and money changers, “he was angered that its outer court had become a place of commerce”. As He drove the merchants out He said, “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade”. We are further told that his apostles retained their reverence for the Temple even after the Resurrection.

Of all of our actions in life, prayer and pleasing God our Creator should stand above any other pursuit. How much more important than any other quest is our approach to the sacrificial altar? What are our actions saying when we take the glory and worship of our God in vain? Do we present ourselves grudgingly or carelessly for that brief hour each week? Or are our efforts fitting and pure? Perhaps we could become more aware and make some improvements during Lent. How will we show our respect and honor for Jesus in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Will we inspire a new outward sign of reverence that will carry over past Easter? Do you see any actions in particular that speak to you in relation to the dignity given to our Sacrificial Lord? Share your thoughts and experiences with us so that we may learn from one another.

Of course, good example, also gives a ripple effect to those around us. Once the ripple covers our own little pond, it moves on to other ponds, rivers, and lakes. Good behavior, as well as bad, has been known to be contagious! Why, you might ask, are all of these things so darned important? The answer? Obedience, humility and most importantly R-E-S-P-E-C-T. For more insight, it might be helpful to read this most informative post, Save the Liturgy, Save the World, by Fr. Zuhlsdorf for an explanation much better than my own. God bless and Catholic on!