My first memory of attending mass is probably Easter Sunday at the age of three or four. I had a pretty dress, bonnet, little white gloves, and shiny white shoes. The church was full and so my parents and I stood in the rear gathering area. I was very pleased with my Easter outfit and paid little attention to the Word of God. A few years later in that same church, I was again enthralled with a lace white dress and veil as I knelt at the communion railing and received my first communion. Once again, I did not appreciate the moment, but looked forward to cake and presents.
Year after year, each Sunday I attended mass with my family. Eventually I married in the Catholic Church. It was a beautiful mass and ceremony. As a young bride, I was focused on my dress, flowers, groom, and reception to follow. In the years to follow, my husband and I had three children who were all raised in the Catholic faith and who were all busy with extracurricular activities. We did not always make Sunday mass and thought little of it at the time. Life was busy and we felt “God understood”.
Gradually and thankfully, the Holy Spirit worked on my husband and I and we were given the grace to realize the importance of mass attendance and the sacraments. As we grew to understand the meaning behind the mass, we grew to love attending mass. We wanted to give more of ourselves to our Savior who gave all of Himself for us. When we were asked by our parish priest to help mentor engaged couples we jumped at the opportunity to share our story with other couples. It was our hope that the young couples we welcomed into our home would come to appreciate our faith, traditions and sacraments from the moment they would begin their life as man and wife. The mass, family rosaries, and adoration were now an important part of our lives. It was important to share with others the abundance of joy our faith brought into our lives. It was our gift to the Giver of all gifts!
Then along came covid 19! Never in all my 55 years did I ever consider it possible that our beloved church would be locked and closed to the public. As faithful Catholics, my husband and I felt a little lost on Sundays. We had to adjust to a new normal of watching mass on the TV or computer, spiritual communion, and group messaging family rosaries. Our home became “our little domestic church”.
We moved into our current home about six years ago. At that time, I decided to create an altar in my living area and bedroom. On these altars I placed statues, pictures, icons, Bible, etc. to remind all that came through our door that Jesus is the center of our home and family.
Pope John Paul II said, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family – a domestic church.” He also said, “As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate, and serve the Gospel of life. This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift.”
The last few months have been hard. The loss of the mass and sacraments have only made our love for them and Jesus grow. We look forward to the time when the churches are all open and full to capacity again. This past Easter celebration was rather different and difficult for I am no longer the little girl who basked in the beauty of my Easter outfit; I wanted to feel the presence of My Lord and Savior. Good Friday was a solemn day. My husband and I watched the 3:00 service, fasted and waited for the Easter Vigil mass. We filled our altar with candles and lit them one by one during the Vigil mass as we celebrated His Resurrection. We felt His presence and His love and we knew that in the midst of all the chaos and confusion of these days, God is in charge!
Jesus, we trust in YOU!