a lesson in the cry room

Honestly, I used to be “on the fence” about church “cry rooms.” But since I’ve become a mama, I’ve definitely come to appreciate them. Especially since we have such a loud and active infant. 

We recently visited my hubby’s home parish in the ‘burbs. It had a tiny cry room, and it was jam packed.

One family particularly struck me: a mother, father, and four small kids. The father and one of the children was away for a very long while (potty break?). When he was gone, the mother was trying her best to corral her other three very active kids. Her youngest even kept crawling head-on towards the actively opening and closing door. Yikes! 

All the while, this same young mother’s head was also submerged in her missal for all other moments BETWEEN her re-directing her children.  I admired how this mother still tried to follow along with the Mass in her missal. 

I also noticed a married couple to our left who had three tiny kids. One of their little girls was a wee little infant who LOVED screaming– er, SCREECHING. The parents took turns herding their little ones so that the other respective spouse could be more engaged in the Mass. Such a good display of teamwork so that they could both participate better at Mass! I admired how they both kneeled so reverrently too.

Lastly, I noticed a family with a couple teens, a pre-teen, and an infant. The infant was being quiet fidgety. One of their teenage children also seemed not in the least interested in Mass. Yet I could see– rather, hear– the two parents in this family really lifting up their voices to God, and particularly the father doing so. His soul seemed to emanate from his vocals. He was singing with his whole body; he was almost swaying to the music! 

All of these parents shared one look: that of being TIRED. Yet they also shared another look: that of being ENGAGED IN MASS ANYWAY. What INSPIRATION to be found in that jam-packed cry room.

Yes, we parents were tired, we were treading on that fine line between exhausted and crazy, yet we were participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass together. What better gift could we have from God than the gift to be there? Screaming babies and all.

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the Holy Mass > service + praise and worship

When I attend (or rather, “pray”) the Holy Mass, readings from the Old Testament and New Testament are read, and the Gospel is proclaimed. This is called the “Liturgy of the Word” and it is the common denominator of most Christian worship services, Protestant and Catholic. However, at a Catholic Mass, instead of “praise and worship” following, the “Liturgy of the Eucharist” follows. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Our LORD gives Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist: body, blood, soul, and divinity!

In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus offers me a perfect Oblation and Sacrifice: Himself! None of my own human emotions can change His gift to me. However, I feel that in praise and worship, the focus is on offering my human emotions to God. I realize that others may see this differently than I do. However, this is my own personal experience.

Truly, in the Mass as well as at a “service” or “praise and worship session,” we must similarly offer ourselves to God (physically, spiritually, and emotionally). However, in the Mass, that’s only half of the equation. In Mass, Our LORD comes down to us physically, as well as spiritually, in the Eucharist! In His decisive love, regardless of our merely human emotions, He offers Himself to us in a re-presentation of His Sacrifice at Calvary!

1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.”

That second half… “that he loved us and sent his son”: now, that’s the entire gist of the Holy Mass… the Son of God coming to us! Body. Blood. Soul. And Divinity. Amen.

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The man who died and rose for us… and offers us Himself to be broken in the form of bread… is also the son of Mary and Joseph. As well as the Son of God. Amen!

faith without works? DEAD.

The Gospel antiphon today reads: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).

Interestingly, I believe that Matthew 4:4 sums up Catholicism quite succinctly. I know that St. Matthew is saying that we are not sustained only on earthly bread. Rather, we are sustained by Our LORD Who comes to us in Communion in the form of Divine Bread, and that bread that we consume is not “just a symbol”: it is Our Savior! However, just as we cannot sustain our souls on earthly bread, so too can we not simply receive the Lord in the Eucharist (on mere physical terms) and believe that we will be sustained.

Holy Communion is not magical! For instance, if a lifelong sinner and non-believer receives Our Lord in the Eucharist while lying on his deathbed, this does not mean that he will automatically go to Heaven if he consumes Our Lord in the Eucharist! No, our love relationship with Our Lord is one that involves the body and the soul– and moreover, the heart.

Our Heavenly Bread is Jesus Himself; He comes into our bodies. Yet in order to let Jesus truly save us, we must cooperate with Him by also “[living] on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” What does this mean? We must not only receive Jesus in the Bread; we must also listen to His every word and act on His words, in love!

Jesus Christ IS the New Testament.”Testament” is a translation of the word “Covenant.” What is a covenant? A covenant is an exchange of persons.

At Mass, in the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Jesus gives Himself to us in the form of Bread and we give ourselves to Him. In addition, in the Liturgy of the Word, Jesus gives Himself to us in Holy Scripture. And after that end-of-Mass “commissioning,” when the priest (who acts in the place of Christ) says, “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!”– THAT is when we are sent out into the world to “[live] on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

In James 1:22-24, Holy Scripture admonishes: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself, and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was.”

It can be really hard being a Catholic twenty-something in a generation where moral relativity reigns and everything goes. Yet living our covenant life with Christ means both receiving Him in the Eucharist and living out our faith through our works: living on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God!

Catholic twenty-somethings, do our actions show that we even know ourselves? If we look at ourselves in “a glass,” we should be able to see Christ in us. We should be confident knowing that He is Our Master, Our Lord, Our Love.

James 2:26 clarifies further: “For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.” Receiving Our Heavenly Bread and listening to Him is not enough. We must believe and we must demonstrate our love for Our Eucharistic LORD through our actions. Yes, we are most fully alive when we receive His flesh and His blood in the Eucharist and when we try our very best to live “every word that comes forth from the mouth of God”!

Every good work we do is merely completed by the Holy Spirit working through us. We give our “go.” And our fuel is grace: it is Christ in us, Who we receive in the Eucharist!

Catholic twenty-somethings, this generation of ours is tired of hypocrites. Most especially during this Lenten season, may we always strive to walk the way of Christ! And may we never become discouraged if we fall a hundred times or a thousand times a day. For we ourselves do not merit Heaven through our works; Christ has already done that through His flesh and His blood.

All we must do is follow Him and give Him our flesh and our blood, as well as our actions, and not just our lip service! He will build His Kingdom through us. All we must do is give our joyful and humble, “Yes, LORD!”.