Because I have small children, going to Mass is much more of an endurance event rather than anything resembling a spiritual encounter. I do feel it is important to bring young children to Mass to help them get the blessings available and help get them in the habit of keeping the Sabbath, and I think that God gives you extra credit for the effort. I will say, however, that while I LOVE going to Mass, I do not enjoy going with small children.
There are young children who sit quietly through a service. God has not seen fit to bless me with these children. No, I get the ones who are whirlwinds of motion, for whom "quiet" is a foreign concept. I live in the crying room, where my children are the ones most likely to be doing the crying, screaming, etc. This was true ten years ago, and it is true now. By the time I get through Mass, I am physically and mentally exhausted, and I could not tell you one thing that was said in the readings or the homily. A year into the new translation and I have given up hope that I will ever learn the new creed. I've barely got "And with your spirit" and "It is right and just" down! The only blessing is that having lived this once before, I know that this, too, shall pass. My young charges will eventually learn to sit in a pew and pay attention. Someday, I will once again get to hear the prayers and take part.
Which brings me to the subject of this post. I went to the Mass for the Holy Day at the 8:15 with the crew, and fulfilled my obligation for the day. But this afternoon, I was blessed with a few hours of alone time (a rare treat) and headed to my college alma mater to enjoy the cafe and spend some quality time soaking up the ambiance of the library while I worked on my latest work-in-progress. When I go there, I always make my first stop the chapel, to say a quick prayer and spend some time with Jesus. When I walked in today, I saw a sign saying there was a 6:00 pm Mass for the Holy Day. I could go! Alone! Yes, it meant giving up some time in the library, but I know that any time given to God is multiplied in productivity. And this was an opportunity I simply could not pass up!
So, I made remarkably good use of my time and then headed back to the chapel. Mass was amazing. Honestly, it was the twenty-minute variety, but the priest is such a gifted preacher that the time involved is irrelevant. Mass was reverent, not rushed, and his short homily had a message that was exactly what I needed to hear today. It was such a gift. I actually had tears in my eyes as I prayed and gave myself over to God. It was a moment of grace and spiritual renewal that I desperately needed. Thank you, God, for the gift.