This morning was one of the few occasions I truly and sincerely enjoyed and appreciated the priest’s homily. We four even found ourselves having quiet and brief discussions on what the priest had just said or occasionally looking at each other and nodding to show agreement with the priest. Readings and the Gospel were about God’s invitation to His banquet, to His kingdom, but only few accepting His invitation; only few being chosen. The priest (at St. Jerome-Alabang) clearly explained it further by concretely connecting it to how mass-goers nowadays have forgotten to put priority on the Holy Mass, have not observed the proper decorum especially in attire and behavior while the mass is going on. I greatly appreciated the homily because what he preached was something I personally always tell or teach Arielle and Kayla.
To give a summary, the priest pointed out the following:
1. Give priority to the Holy Mass, especially Sunday Mass. Be there early. If you arrive late, it just shows that the Mass wasn’t your priority. You were rushing for something else. If you failed to go to church, then you had other activities in your priority list.
Mike always reminds us not to leave the church until the priest has exited from the altar as a sign of respect. Another practice that he taught our girls is to bless the priest after the Mass, which I didn’t do in my childhood.
One thing we also take note of when we go out of town for a trip is include Sunday Mass in our itinerary. Having fun and being on a vacation should not be an excuse for not fulfilling our Christian and Catholic obligation. The Mass only takes one hour to one hour and 15 minutes at the most, once a week. If we can devote the rest of our hours to our work, our chores, our social and civic activities, then why shouldn’t we be able to do the same for God?
2. Come in proper attire. Dress modestly and make sure that when you come to church, you are able to help others in their spiritual life and not be a distraction or the cause for them to sin.
I should remind or encourage our girls to dress better every time we go to Church. They usually just go in jeans, shirt and FitFlops. On some occasions, when we’re in the mall and end up attending Mass there, they’re in shorts, which I think I should not permit from now on.
3. Participate in the celebration. Do not engage in useless talk with your companions and keep your mobile phones off during the Mass.
This is what I always teach Arielle and Kayla. I always remind them to keep quiet and stop talking with each other for a while, and give their one hour to Jesus.
A scene that never fails to bother me during Mass is kids running around, eating chips or drinking juice while the Mass is going on, and the parents seeming to be perfectly okay with their kids’ rowdy and distracting behavior. I can honestly say that when my girls were toddlers or about 6 or 8 years old, and we brought them to Mass, they were taught to listen to the priest, behave, and even follow the gestures and say the responses I was teaching them as the Mass was going on. Now that they’re older, they generally know what’s acceptable and what’s not at Church.
Let me also share some family practices we do:
1. Mike, being the father and supposedly the priest of the family, leads us into prayer usually after Holy Communion. In our seats, we huddle together as we listen to Mike leading the prayer and us, occasionally sharing other concerns or requests we would like to lift up to God.
2. We also try to visit the Blessed Sacrament before or after the Sunday Mass to give ourselves personal quiet time with Jesus.
3. I also have given Arielle and Kayla a pouch each which contains a rosary, a rosary guide, a scapular, and a Padre Pio booklet with a medal. Their pouches are always in their personal bag to serve as a reminder of God’s protection and constant watch over them and to encourage them to pray the rosary, especially when we visit the Blessed Sacrament.
With these, we do our best to accept God’s invitation to His banquet and try to become the chosen ones. Sunday Mass and our faith are not just rituals. It’s something that we try to consciously live out. We may not be perfect but we do our best to give importance to our spiritual life and even make it a priority over what’s physical and material.