The Presentation of the Lord
Fruit of the Mystery: Faithfulness to God
When Mass is a Struggle
Although my heart longs to celebrate Holy Mass once again and receive Jesus in the Eucharist, I will admit, there is a part of me that is relieved not to have to take the kids to church every Sunday [during this pandemic].
Trying to get to church on time with three young children every week is a struggle, to say the least. Quiet, stillness, and attention are challenging for my bouncy, loud, and active young boys.
Sure, there are good days — days when the kids, for the most part, follow directions, whisper instead of yell, and are acting kind to each other instead of arguing. Days when they want to participate in the songs and watch some of the parts of the Mass with attention and curiosity. Yet, there are other days when going to Mass with the kids just feels like a battle that we have to survive.
On those days, it feels draining instead of life-giving. On those days, it takes all our effort to be patient and gentle with them, and I am sorry to admit that there have been days that we have failed in that effort and have not been the best example of Christlikeness toward our children.
It is on those days that I feel defeated and discouraged, and it is easy for me to wonder: “What’s the point? Why even come to church with them? What did we even get out of the Mass? Did it do more good than harm?”
It is on those days that faith is essential.
Faith that God is working His grace through the Holy Mass in my life and the lives of my husband and children, despite all appearances.
Faith that God desires our presence more than a perfectly quiet church.
Faith that He cherishes our desires and efforts to be there despite (or maybe even because of) the imperfect ways that we show up.
Faith that by our faithfulness to His commandments and to worshiping Him in the way He calls us, He will bear great fruit in our lives.
It is on those days I am reminded of Mary and her faithfulness to God in the smallest details of the Mosaic Law. As I pray the rosary and reflect on the fourth joyful mystery — the Presentation in the Temple — I can’t help wondering if it ever entered Mary’s mind to question her need to go to the temple and offer the sacrifice of two turtledoves.
According to the Mosaic Law, during the time after giving birth, a mother was ritually unclean, similar to the time of her menstruation. She had period of semi-isolation — 40 days for a male child and 80 days for a female child, — and then went to the Temple in Jerusalem to undergo a ritual of purification. She and her family offered a turtle dove and a lamb as an offering for her purification. If they were too poor to offer a lamb, they offered two turtledoves. Joseph and Mary followed this law, despite the fact that Mary was a virgin from the moment of Jesus’ conception and, so, did not need purification.
If I had been Mary, I would have asked, “What’s the point?” After all, she was pure by the grace of the Holy Spirit. After all, they were poor and could sure use the extra money that it cost to buy those turtledoves. After all, it was a burden and a great sacrifice to take such a long journey with a young baby, all that way to Jerusalem, for a sacrifice and purification that she didn’t really need anyway.
Somehow, I can’t imagine Mary thinking these things.
Hers was a faith that understood God’s faithfulness to her and that responded to His faithfulness by her actions. Hers was a heart that was always fixed on doing what was asked of her, no matter the cost. Her fiat, or her “yes” to God, was consistent, and in obedience, she joyfully chose His will day in and day out throughout her life. It was this faithfulness that allowed her to be open to all the graces that He had in store for her. It was this faithfulness to God that allowed Him to do great things in her life and the lives of the whole world.
And great things did, indeed, happen! The Holy Spirit spoke in the mouths of Simeon and Anna to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah — the salvation and light for which the Jews were waiting! This moment was the first time Jesus’ Messianic mission was proclaimed publicly, and it revealed that His salvation was not just for the Jews but for all.
As I reflect on this mystery, I reflect on Mary’s faithfulness to God and how it was a reflection of her trust in His faithfulness to her. As more and more churches begin to offer Holy Mass publicly again, and we prayerfully discern at what point it is safe to take our children, I place my trust in God, knowing that despite the struggles of bringing our children to church, God will do great things in us because of it. I reflect that by acting in faithfulness to God, we are actually professing His faithfulness to us. I pray that His Holy Spirit may speak to us and work through us by the great graces we receive in the Holy Mass — and that He may do the same for you and your family.
About Anna: Anna Sevilla is a beloved child of God, Catholic wife and homeschool mother of three young boys. In the free moments that she can snatch, she enjoys spending time in nature, reading, learning about her faith and writing about it on her blog at: https://sacredordinarylife.com
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