Church or bust

It may have been the bourbon talking, but I got it in my head Tuesday night that we would all go to Ash Wednesday Mass bright and early in the morning. I wouldn’t normally drag my children along for what I consider “Catholic extras”–you know, Stations of the Cross, Holy Days of Obligation, that sort of thing–but with all days trapped inside lately due to snow, it seemed like a nice family outing. We were especially excited that the private schools were in session, so we could attend a school Mass, which we thought our kids might enjoy more than the regular variety. It didn’t work out exactly like I planned…

First, we incorrectly assumed that if 4 Catholic schools were holding a one-hour school delay, then by association the fifth one would be as well. We showed up at the 8:00 Mass at 9:00, which by logic of a one hour delay, would have made sense. Only, the school in question was the ONLY Catholic school in a 300 mile radius that did not hold an hour delay on Wednesday.

Next, I frantically dialed other Catholic churches to find another Mass. No luck. I struck out over and over, until finally I got the pre-recorded message at one of the downtown churches boasting a 10 am service “every weekday.”  Ah, ha!  We had an hour to kill, so we headed straight to our other place of worship (Starbucks) and had some snacks. Then we force marched our kids around the block in the snow and ice (holding cups of ice water from Starbucks, no less; but that part wasn’t my idea), to get their circulation pumping. Soon it was time to head downtown, except that since we spent too much time torturing our children, now we were in danger of actually being late.

We rushed downtown, hitting every red light and leaning forward in our seats–you know, the way you lean forward because somehow that helps you get there faster. The parking at the chosen church is all torn up due to construction, so we spent several tense moments finding a spot that we wouldn’t be towed from, then raced all three kids down the path to church–which of course, was dark and empty. It seems that Mass is at 10 am every weekday except Ash Wednesday, when it’s at noon. hmmm

Completely exhausted we headed home, deterred from our task and no longer determined about much of anything, except maybe getting our lunch. (I should note that if we lived anywhere near anything this whole story would not have taken place. We would have simply gone home in the first place and then back out to the Mass of our choice. But when you live a zillion miles from life itself–my opinion–you tend to organize your day around one big “trip to town.”)

But then, a ray of hope. Amidst making arrangements for a previously scheduled “Girls’ Night Out”, my friend Angie suggests that we carpool and stop by the late night Ash Wednesday service on our way home. It was the perfect solution, at least for me. Now, I know I have some strange children, but I was rather shocked when Thomas actually cried with jealousy. I quote: “But Mom, it’s not fair that you get to go to Mass and I don’t!”  Seriously? I didn’t have time to Google it right away, but believe me, as soon as I get the chance I will get the phone number to the nearest Monastery, because I think I have a priest in the making here. (For which, I must give due credit to the Baptist Preschool, because that is really where he developed his love of religion)

And so the night ended: me with my cross of ashes on my forehead, sitting peacefully at the service, actually able to contemplate Lent alone, without distraction. And it was nice. It was really, really nice.  And because I can’t stand a failed mission, it was also good that the whole church quest was not a total bust.

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