Monday, May 12, 2008

Back to Church

We might as well revisit kids in church. After all, I was the mother trying to decide whether or not to leave the movie theatre when my son Tighe genuflected and made the sign of the cross before entering the row of seats to see Peter Pan. It's not that he'd never seen a movie. We just went to the drive in theatre, and this was the matinee. People laughed. I was so glad when the lights finally went down. We'd been to church a lot, but to the indoor theatre never.

So now we'll go back in time to when I had three youngsters. It was Easter Sunday, and we had been persuaded to spend the holiday in Grandma Harrell's one bedroom mobile home at Lake Isabella. Ben was two, Jeremy almost six, and Tighe almost nine and a half. Grandma Harrell wasn't used to the noise of children, and it's not possible to keep three boys quiet in so little space. It was blistering hot, and crowded. Ben was a very picky eater, and that set Grandma off as well, but we were closing in on the end of the visit. Stress was high. I had wanted to go to early Mass, but Grandma wanted to do an egg hunt first, so we ended up going to the noon services across the lake.

Bad idea. First off, the kids had had too much of their Easter baskets by then, so they were squirming in their seats. They also hadn't had lunch yet. Not a good time to go to church. But the biggest problem was that it was a high Mass. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the idea of a high Mass, let me give you an idea. If you're familiar with scriptures, each Mass will have two readings from the Bible. One will come from the Old Testament, and one from the New Testament. A high Mass, however, goes well beyond that. Everyone stands, and the Priest reads a section of scripture, then everyone says Amen and you sit. A short prayer is said, and everyone stands up again, and the Priest reads the next section from the Scripture. During the Easter High Mass, The entire Passion of Christ is read. It takes a long time. After about the sixth reading, as everyone began to sit down, Benjamin yelled out, in a very loud voice, "AMEN!" with the clear intent that this be the last time the Priest should be requiring him to say it.

Grandma Harrell was mortified. She glared at him. She glared at me. She never entered a church with us again. However, there was a little grey-haired grandmother in front of us whose shoulders shook for the rest of the service. She would no sooner get herself under control than a prayer would end with Amen, and she would again start to laugh and her shoulders would start to shake again. I took that as comfort. John's mother didn't think it was funny, but that little Granny in front of us sure did. I have to admit it would have been funnier to me then if it had been somebody else's kid.

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