I love Holy Days of Obligation. I always have. Even before my life as a grown up who has studied and taken a sincere, educated interest in her Faith, Holy Days have always held a sort of mystique. Stepping outside of your normal routine of regular life during the week and Mass on Sundays really forces you to pay attention, you know? This, of course, makes me wonder about those who attend daily Mass. Do the Holy Days offer something different to these Faithful? For me, no matter how frequently I would attend Mass, these days always stood out as special. They were a time to really focus, to really celebrate our Faith.
There was a time in my life when I was far more frequent a Mass attendee. That remarkable period where I was so totally immersed in Catholic Culture that the peer pressure I was subjected to centered around going to Mass. Or Adoration. Or Confession. A time when I was the recipient of other peoples' efforts to bring my Faith to life.
Those were the days. I often reflect on how easy it was back then. How my four years on top of the hill were, faith-wise, the easiest I've ever had. True, they were years of tremendous growth. Of stretching. And, in that regard, came along with their own challenges. But everything I needed was available to me - whether I wanted it on any given day or not. Honestly, when else can you go to confession to a multitude of priests EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK? Where else can you pop in for Adoration at any time of the day or night on any day of the year? (Those people who can do this? SO. LUCKY.) Boy oh boy. It was so easy. And I didn't even realize it.
My current life still has me immersed in Catholic Culture, but now it's just different. I'm no longer the recipient of other peoples' efforts to create that culture. Now I find that I am the creator of that culture. I now live in a world where, if daily Mass is going to be available, it's becuase I'm motivating the family (okay, myself) to get ready in the mornings. In this world, if my kids are going to understand the extreme privilege of visiting Our Lord in Adoration, it's because I'm the one making the house call. Fostering a love for Our Blessed Mother comes as a result of my loving my children the way that she loved her own Son. Encouraging daily prayer will not come as a result of my prodding, "Did you say your prayers?" Rather, it will develop out of giving my entire family the gift of praying together....and teaching them to respect the fact that sometimes, we need to go into our rooms and take some time alone...just us and Jesus.
Naturally, I am blessed in that the responsibility does not lie with me alone. My boys have a phenomenal, faith-filled dad who takes such a keen interest in practicing his faith. He recognizes that, in order to be a full participant in the Faith, one must study and truly understand it. He is the head of the household, both literally and metaphorically. He directs us well, and he educates us well. Often, though, I will find myself frustrated when Tim reminds me that "we need to be praying more. We need to be praying the Rosary." This is always true, but I admit that sometimes my back goes up when I hear that direction. Rather than humbly thinking, "he's right. We do need to be praying more," my thoughts will sometimes turn to, "he is the head of the family. It's one thing to say we need to be praying more and completely another thing to make sure we DO it."
Not surprisingly, Our Lady always seems to provide the gentle reminder that I need (and it's always immediate.) I can practically hear her whispering in my ear, "but you are the mother. You are the HEART of the family." And I sheepishly remember that she is right. His job is to direct and to guide. My job is to give that gentle nudge into action. By allowing the head and the heart to work together, we're providing that organic combination that is creating our own Catholic Culture right here in our very own home.
That is the lesson that I've taken out of this most beautiful solemnity. On this day that we almost forgot to go to Mass because we've been so distracted with other things. On this day that I spent the entire homily seeing to the needs of my little ones rather than soaking in any little bit of the homily. On this day that I didn't even talk to Our Blessed Mother even once (not even to say, "help!" which is a frequent conversation that we share), I've learned that Mary's path to holiness was through her "yes" to motherhood and everything that entails.
So lies mine.