Friday, May 18, 2007

Taking Chances

After Nicholas was born, it just wasn't possible for me to go to church alone with the children anymore. The two little ones were more than I could handle by myself. For a long while, I didn't even attempt it.

A recent First Communion ceremony that we attended somewhat cautiously, however, confirmed my suspicions that all the boys are now officially mature enough to attend Mass with me alone. They were perfectly behaved. Now, I realized, we could participate in the Mass on weekdays again, though we really were not in the habit anymore.

Ascension Thursday provided the perfect occasion to go together again. I was a bit concerned that I was being overly confident--what if the First Communion ceremony had been a fluke and today the two little ones would cause some unexpected disaster, or an older child would pull an even less expected stunt? I took my chances.

The church was crowded. I scanned the pews looking for an open end and found none, oh We filed in and only after sitting did I realize why the pew had been empty. There was no kneeler along half of it. Luckily I sat where there was a kneeler. It was the three oldest boys who were kneeler-less. I whispered to them that it was Ok and that they could just sit when others were kneeling. They nodded in agreement.

When the Eucharistic Prayer began, however, I could see that Simeon was uncomfortable sitting through the consecration. He moved to the edge of his seat and sort of half-knelt while hanging on to the pew, then he just went for it and knelt down on the cold stone floor. It was a small, but sincere act of piety and the others followed his lead, as they always do. Alex first, then Jacob dropped down onto the hard floor--moved more by respect for Simeon than for the Sacrament they have yet to understand.

For the rest of the liturgy, my heart swelled with gratitude for these children, for this oldest son, for the example he sets, and that the others follow. I could thank God, too, for the opportunity to thank Him while in His house and at His table, and not just from my kitchen.

So though the littlest ones were somewhat squirmy toward the end, the wiggling seemed a small price to pay and I've decided, now, to make a habit of taking my chances.


Cheryl M. said...

Suzanne - what a precious boy Simeon is - I am so proud of him!
He is the perfect "older brother."

Kristen Laurence said...

That is wonderful. And it is such a gift for you to bring them to mass, "taking your chances". Even if disaster strikes, what a beautiful gift it is for your boys!

Be sure to tell Simeon how proud I am of him!

Jill said...

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. My heart is swelling with pride for the wonderful Catholic mothers out there who have instilled these things into their children. God bless you and all of those dear boys!

betty said...

What a wonderful story! I praise God for YOU, Suzanne, and the fact that you are teaching your children to love and respect their faith. Simeon is learning well and what a beautiful example he is for his younger brothers!

Theresa said...


Julie said...

Beautiful post... Simeon sounds like an incredible big brother and role model!

James said...

Mrs. Temple,

Even now at age 22, I still have very vivid memories of my first times at church. My parents began taking me when I was either 3 or four.

The saying from my father that I'll never forget is, "Church is a place to pray, not to play."

Dad made a deal with me that if I sat still through the reading of the gospel at Sunday Mass, he would take me out for a walk during the homily and we would return for the creed.

Even though I'm an adult, I still sometimes zone out during the homily. Nonetheless, I am grateful that Dad made clear early on that church wasn't supposed to be entertaining, for our prayers are to the greater glory of God.

Peace be with you.


mel said...

Your boys sound like such sweethearts. :) What wonderful men they will grow up to be.

I'm glad you posted this. Mass is such a difficulty for me as well, as I often have to go alone with the kids, and I wonder how those with even more littles manage!

Anonymous said...

Hi! Do you have any practical advice on how to form your eldest son to such leadership?
I have a 6 year old boy and 4 other little ones follow him too.(although boys and girls).
I am interested if you can tell us what type of responsiblities and extras that you ask of him/require of him/ and do for him to be such a leader for the younger boys?
would you care to share?

Suzanne Temple said...

anon, I'd like to take all the credit and say my oldest son is the way he is because I know how to raise kids right, but that wouldn't be true. Though I consider my family my life's work, the truth is he is a very good natured boy and I attribute most of this to his sweet natural temperament and to grace.

That said, we do believe that homeschooling keeps him family focused and our relying on him for help in caring for the younger ones from an early age has both matured him and caused the others to look up to him. We reward him, as much as possible, by letting him stay up late with us or other things that make him feel like a grown up. He responds well to that.

Suzanne Temple said...

One more thing, anon, I've been in that very boat: five children aged under six and while I relied as much as possible on my oldest at the time...there is only so much help a six year old can be. I found that time to be very difficult in a physically demanding (and anxiety causing) sort of way. The good news is that that hard time passes and passes rather quickly. On the other side, you have all these great kids that are one another's best friends. I'd do it all again if I to to be where I am now. Feel free to email me, I'd be happy to talk more.

KImberlee said...

God will bless you richly for 'taking chances'. You must be very proud of your sweet boys!

Jane Ramsey said...

God bless Simeon!
And how wonderful for you to be able to go to a daily Mass now. I can't wait til mine are old enough to behave that well!