Sunday, the day we do everything nice
Preparing our young children to be present at Mass
By Stephen and Mavi Camilli
With three young children, our family sometimes struggles to get everybody ready for Sunday Mass. My wife and I had often gotten into arguments or had moments of tension while hurriedly preparing ourselves and the kids to arrive on time, or we would just arrive late.
One day we shared our difficulties with a member of our parish, who recommended an article entitled, “How to avoid mass hysteria.” In it, another family described their way of preparing for Mass. Their style contrasted greatly with our own. They mentioned how, since Sunday is a special time of the week dedicated to God and his worship, they tried to make the preparations special too. So as a family they began on Sunday morning by going over the Bible readings and discussing them and what they meant.
We actually didn’t know how to help our children experience the Mass at their age and level. When we saw this family’s experience, we thought, if we want to put God first in our lives, we need to give Sunday and the celebration of Mass its sacred place in our lives too.
So when the children woke up the next Sunday, we both got up with them, even though it was difficult to do so, and we decided to make a special breakfast together with the children as a way to celebrate this special day, Sunday. We made Eggs Benedict for the first time ever! We explained to the children that on this special day, Sunday, we would begin with a nice meal and read a story about Jesus.
So we read that day’s Gospel reading, which was about the miraculous catch of fish by the disciples, and how Jesus would make them “fishers of men.” Our children are age four, almost three, and one, so the reading had its interesting moments. Our oldest son, Francesco, said, “Fishers of men, that’s silly!” So we did our best to explain it.
We got to Mass early that day, sat in the front, and the experience truly was different. The next Sunday, we repeated the experience. The reading from the Old Testament mentioned milk and honey, and when we heard the readings at Mass, our son said: “Milk and honey! Just like the story at home!” They definitely were more engaged, and so were we.
We have found that when we are able to live our Sunday mornings in this way, we aren’t fighting, but are enjoying our time together as a family, and we even make it to the service on time.
A couple of times outside of Sundays, one of our children has said, “I want to read from the big heavy book, like we do on the special day.” And we would read a story from there. When we shared the experience as a family with some other friends, Francesco piped up, “We read from the big book, and we do everything nice.”
Surely there will be days when it won’t go as well, but we are encouraged to discover always more how to make room for God in our family life.
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