Missing Mass

In case you’ve misplaced your calendar, it’s Holy Thursday, the beginning of the Easter Triduum. It’s an exciting day for me because the Liturgy of the Last Supper is one of my favorites.

It’s not for the foot-washing and the accompanying battles every year, but because of its focus on the Eucharist. I love the prayers, the stripping to the altars, the procession to the chapel of reservation, the Holy Hour, the singing of the Tantum Ergo. I love the way the Mass just ends, without a regular dismissal. It leaves you with a sense of anticipation, that this is just the beginning. The world pauses for a pregnant pause before the horror of Good Friday and the exultant joy of Easter Sunday.

Unfortunately, I think that this will be the first Holy Thursday Mass I’ve missed in a long, long time. With Isabella here now, we can’t just drag her to church at bedtime and expect her to be well-behaved, never mind the time for adoration after.

I did offer to let Melanie attend and I would stay home and mind Bella. Then next time I could go. How do other parents of little ones handle liturgies that conflict with bedtime?

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  • Just go and see what happens.  If the kid gets to cranky, leave.  I’ve been to a couple evening Masses where one of my kids will just fall asleep in my arms – though that makes kneeling difficult.


  • On Holy Thursday we take all 6 with us.  Evening Mass is always difficult with kids, but this is one we just bear through.  Often some will fall asleep and I lug them out to the suburban while my wife goes into adoration with the oldest. 

    I usually get a moment to pop into adoration to see my Lord for a couple of minutes.

    Easter vigil is where we switch off.  Or I usually go with a couple of the older kids.  (also nice because I can break my Triduum fast after the vigil instead of Sunday Morning.)

  • My wife is staying home both tonight and for the Great Vigil with our two little ones. They’ll come along for Good Friday and Easter Day.

    I should note that our oldest came to all of Triduum with us until after his second birthday. With the addition of a newborn, as he approached his third birthday, the break of bedtime routine became too traumatic for all of us.

    As he’ll be four this summer, I’m planning to take him to all of Triduum next year, but we’ll see how that goes.

    Tonight’s bedtime story for him will be a reading from the Fr. Lovasik Picture Bible of the Last Supper and Institution of the Eucharist. That will have to do until he’s a bit older. smile

  • That was my suggestion.

    We just get the kids in something comfirtable enough that if they do fall asleep we can just drop them in bed when we get home. Take a blanket for them and stretch them out in the pew.

  • I should point out that Isabella is not a “sleeper”. Getting to sleep in her own bed is hard enough. At Mass she’d just be cranky.

    Melanie’s parents say she was the same way.

  • We’re in the same boat. We’re still playing it by ear for tonight with our 2-month old. He is most definitely NOT a sleeper from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Chances are, one of us will go tonight, and the other will go tomorrow at 3:00.

    And we’re still debating on whether we should drop him off with my parents on Saturday night and go to vigil mass without him or brave Sunday morning as a family.

    He’s been a terror (aleit a cute one) the last few Sundays at mass.

  • If you really could bring a blanket to Mass, it might be worth a try (but it sounds like probably not), but if your Mass is crowded, like ours surely is, bringing the baby to this long Mass is like begging for the baby to contract RSV.

  • This question is mostly a matter of prudence. There is really only one hard-and-fast rule, and it is this: if you bring a small child to the Easter vigil, arrive as early as necessary to ensure a seat in the front pew, so that your child cannot set the hair of the person in front of him on fire.

  • We’re still tryign to figure out what to do with small children at Msss, period.  There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution except for people to realize that certain things about Mass (e.g., the “silent reverence” concept) are human inventions.  Remember that “Let the little children come to Me” wasa response to the Apostles complaining about the kids’ “disruptive” behavior.

  • I have tried all the solutions—experiment and be flexible.  Some kids have been the fall-asleep type.  Others behave better in the front pew.  Others behave better in the back pew, where you can escape to the vestibule or whatever “back space” your church has.  Year by year it changes.  My oldest was baptized at the Easter vigil and howled and howled because I was too inexperienced to know to slip out and nurse her preemptively, or to nurse her in the pew (I’ve done both since).  Older babies and toddlers are the hardest, so be patient with yourselves.  If Bella is like her mom, your mother-in-law is a good source of suggestions!  And remember, this stage passes all too quickly.  Before you know it, you’ll be sitting with only your youngest child, as I was last night—the other three were involved with the music (oldest is in CA).

  • I should point out that usually Isabella is very good at Sunday Mass. We sit up front and she’s generally very quiet and attentive. It’s the after-bedtime activities that could be problematic.

  • We took our six month old to Mass at 7pm and things were alright until just before communion.  My wife ended up having to take our son to the bathroom where she nursed him.  Afterwards he was okay for the rest of Mass. Joseph usually is very good and quiet at mass, and watches everything, but, 7:30ish is feeding time.

  • My kids are all now basically grown, and I will have to admit, behaving at Mass was rarely a problem.  I won’t foist the – it’s about discipline and expectations – garbage on you.  We may have just been lucky.

    That being said, my advice is not to worry too much about it. If your concern is with her behavior – I would go.  If your concern is with disrupting her routine, well, I would go anyway. (Actually this is Good Friday, so I hope you went)

    First, if it is behavior that concerns you, the very fact that you are concerned about it indicates that you are not one of those parents who lets his kid run amok and scream in Mass.  I think most reasonable adults (especially if they have had there own kids) don’t have problems with fidgity kids or a little cry or squawk. It’s when the kid races down the center aisle with his Hotwheels showering you with apple juice that you get annoyed.  Unless you think she will be out of control or unconsolable, you can always just leave.

    Second, and this is where I might get some objections, I think kids are pretty resilient and awfully perceptive.  I think we tend to think they don’t understand a lot of things they do – even a toddler like your daughter.  Holy Thursday is important to you, and even though your children must come first in your consideration, I don’t think that holds for all things at all times.  Could disrupting her routine make her uncomfortable?  Sure.  But in the grand scheme of things it is not a big deal.  If I could sum up my primary message as a parent in raising my kids it would be – You are loved and important, and you have a unique place in the universe, but it isn’t at the center.  I will admit, this advice may be questionable with a one year-old, but I would definitely go next year.

  • 1. Bring the child. God will understand. If others don’t, they’re just rude. You can always take her to the vesibule if she gets too loud.

    2. Hire a babysitter?

  • 1. It’s not just about whether she’ll squawk, but also about unfairly keeping up long past her bedtime.

    2. Babysitters in these parts are as rare as hen’s teeth.

  • That was kind of you to let Melanie go. 

    I sat out Holy Thursday and will sit out the Easter Vigil this year for the first time in many years.  I have taken babies and had things go well, and with other babies it’s gone poorly.  This year I know I just can’t take this particular baby.  Sitting in the vestibule with a miserable baby is not going to benefit either of us.

    I think it’s important to be sensitive to the needs of each particular child, and to remember that you have had many opportunities to go to the Holy Thursday Mass and will, God willing, have many more in the future.

  • There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution to these things.

    At the moment we are in the “going in shifts” stage. This means that for the Triduum and Easter ceremonies, one of us will tend to miss out and stay home with the younger children.

    We *may* brave it for the Easter Vigil and all go together, but we’ll see how things are going first.

    It’s certainly a fair thing to be thinking of how Isabella will cope and whether or not it’s unkind to make bedtime later. These things depend on the child concerned. Most of my kids have tended to be pretty flexible.

  • There was a woman with a toddler at church last night. It was sheer torture. It wasn’t the kid’s fault. He was just a little tyke and was up past his bedtime but between his growls, squeals and attempts to escape and to get my attention (I was sitting behind him) it was hard trying to actually here what the priest was saying. He also slammed the pew down on an old woman’s foot, which was not cute at all. That whole scene wasn’t fair to anybody. I don’t know what the heck happened to common sense in this country.