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June 3, 2013

His Body and Blood—Even for the Little Ones

Yesterday the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. While we celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday—every day, even—this is a special reminder about what an important part of our faith this sacrament is. In my experience, the Mass and Eucharistic adoration can be times of great peace and centering. I can focus on God in a physical way before me, and it often gives me perspective to make better choices in my day-to-day.


Near the end of my senior year of college, somehow my favorite campus minister and I got to talking about daily Mass. Over the course of my undergraduate years—largely spurred on my John’s attendance with his family in the summers—I fell in love with daily Mass. It meant sacrificing staying up too late and sleeping in at all, but it gave my days purpose, direction, and focus. As commencement loomed, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to attend Mass once I started a real, grown-up job.


Turns out, you only need to look, and it can be pretty easy, especially in a big city like New York, to find a daily Mass that fits in one’s schedule. Whether before work, at lunchtime, or after work, the options are almost endless.


After we were married and pregnant, again I thought my daily Mass attendance was at an end. How would I bring a baby to Mass every day? Again, I found that where there was a will, there was a way. In the first few months, we might have only gone twice a week, but the desire was still there, and it pulled me back as soon as I could make it happen.


When I was pregnant with Henry, again, I thought that this would be the end, at least for a while. A toddler and a newborn? Crazy!


Well, maybe not. Sometimes a nap takes precedence, but more often, we are in the pew, participating in something larger than ourselves, giving thanks for the many blessings in our lives, and establishing some kind of structure in what could otherwise be a very loose day.


In my experience, going to Mass while being home with an infant and a toddler is way more effective than an energy bar. It’s also good for the kids’ souls, good for my spiritual formation, makes all of us get dressed at the proper time, and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something by 10am. Plus, with our Mass at 9am, it divides the time between first and second breakfast nicely.


There’s yet another benefit of daily Mass attendance in early motherhood—one that yesterday’s feast brought to my attention again. In the Catholic Church, children do not receive the Eucharist until they are about seven years old. At that point, they will have undergone classes that help them to appreciate what it is they’re receiving. The Eucharist really is open to anyone—anyone who appreciates and accepts what the Church teaches the Eucharist is.


While I’m pregnant, I love that my children receive the sacarament’s special graces through me. Likewise, when I’m nursing. I think it’s helped make my kids more peaceful, more centered, more loving. It’s good for them to know how much they’re loved, and participation in the Eucharist is, to my mind, one of the very best ways of doing that.

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