Sunday morning I awaken, clearly feeling worse than I did on Saturday. I figure eating and some coffee will help me. It does, but by 9 am I was wondering if my strength just wasn't going to be up to it. I knew that I could watch Mass on tv if I was sick, but that just isn't the same. I didn't feel horrible, just worn down. My options were:
(1) Everybody stays home from Mass; or
(2) I go and bring Henry (who is no trouble at Mass these days) but leave Anne home, since she is clearly the source of most of my exhaustion at Mass.
I pick option (2). I really wanted to go, I just knew I wasn't up to a lot of wrangling. I get dressed and ready to head out.
The instant Anne realizes that I'm going to church without her, she begins to howl and cry, begging me to put her shoes on and take her with me. I immediately feel terribly guilty. Despite Mike's protests that Anne will be fine at home, I pack her up and take her with me, grabbing a sippy cup of milk, some goldfish crackers, her toddler Bible, and her favorite stuffed Ernie toy. I feel confident that somehow I'll make it through.
We arrive at the church as Mass is starting, which I hate, but sometimes when you have small kids those are the breaks. I was worried about getting a parking spot so I said a prayer to St. Anthony to find one for us, and as we pulled into the lot I easily found one in the back. St. Anthony is good to us.
I hurry the kids into the church and put Henry in charge of getting our palms. Anne and I hustle into a pew over by the music ensemble as Henry approaches with nothing shy of a half dozen palms. We settle in.
Anne quietly eats goldfish crackers on my lap until the Gospel. During the reading of the Passion, she explored our pew a bit, which was fine. I couldn't find Henry's Magnifikid, so I set him up with the regular missal and he did great with it. At some point around the time Peter denies Jesus 3 times, Anne started to get a bit unruly. Giving her a palm to hold was a complete disaster, and she began to go out into the aisle. While I was fine with it as long as she stayed right next to our pew and was quiet, she began to travel and "visit" with some of her fellow parishoners. :) Thus, I picked her up. Big mistake.
Head is thrown back, body goes limp! Fantastic.
I can feel the squawking coming on, so I hustle her to the side vestibule. Wherein she spots a snow shovel resting against the wall and the rest is history. She didn't want to go back to the pew because that was too far from her beloved shovel. I don't know why, but the child is obsessed with shovels. The doors are glass so I could see Henry in our pew, halo perched firmly on his head, following along with his missal. He really comes through sometimes.
I refused to put Anne down since Mass is not playtime, but she was content to stay in my arms and look around the vestibule. We were able to get back out to our pew just before communion, and then after receiving she seemed tired and I held her in the pew. Although not relaxing, I'm so glad that I was able to get to Mass. Palm Sunday's beautiful imagery and decor really sets the mood for the rest of Holy Week. Plus, I got our parish bulletin and can see other Holy Week liturgies that I'd like to attend this week. I'm taking Good Friday off, so I'll have lots of time then.
I managed to get everyone's coats on and off we set back to our car. Several regulars greeted us and complimented the kids. I love our parish.
As I approached the parking lot I saw something that I recognized immediately but have rarely experienced:
Those little anti-Catholic pamphlets with a cartoon demonstrating a particular theological point. They were on the windshields of all of the cars in the parking lot that I could see. Somebody had obviously come and put them there specifically during a Mass, and via my unhappy laser beam eyes I could see that the topic was the papacy, something like "Why do you need a pope?" I was incensed.
I didn't say anything to the kids and hurried them to the car. Amazingly, when I scanned my windshield, I could see that my car didn't have a tract on it. I almost felt offended. How dare they wrest the opportunity from me to tear it up and declare it garbage?!
I looked around the parking lot. The cars that were facing in (so those with easiest access to the windshields from the main part of the parking lot) all had a tract on them. The ones facing out, like mine, did not. Perhaps the responsible party was running low on time. Didn't want to risk running into some of us scary Catholics.
First thought to run through my head: Should I go and take them off the windshields of those that hadn't yet exited the church?! The temptation was there, but I thought that might make me look freakish. I didn't want to be associated with those tracts at all, I was just worried that some of my fellow parishoners might be upset by them, or worse, persuaded by them.
Second thought to enter my head: WHERE IS THE OFFENDING PARTY?! I looked around, eagle-eyed, but saw nobody suspicious. People were beginning to drive out of the parking lot, Chick tracks still stuck to their wiper blades about to blow off, ha!
I let it go, but boy was I mad. I've read about Chick Tracks many times in my Catholic apologetics reading, but the only other time I'd ever seen one was in a bookstore many years ago. I was browsing and pulled down a title about Mother Teresa. Inside the book was an infamous Chick Track titled "The Death Cookie" about the Eucharist. Somebody had deliberately left it in there rightly assuming that people looking at that book were likely to be Catholic. I didn't end up buying the book but I took the tract and threw it in the garbage.
We live in an area filled with churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic, but none jump out at me as being anti-Catholic, so I can't help but wonder where these people crawled out from.
Anyway, I prayed the rosary all the harder during my short ride home, and the the instant I arrived I alerted Mike to the situation, and he was all wide-eyed. I'm trying to let it go, but next time I'm going around and taking them off the cars, I swear it. I am the epitome of a non-confrontational person, but DO NOT mess with me about something that I am passionate about.
Interestingly, later that afternoon I was at my grandmother's apartment dropping off some chili to her since she had surgery this past week. She was raised Catholic and raised her kids Catholic, but left the Church many years ago for an Assembly of God church. Her faith is very important to her, and the way she lives her faith is an inspiration to me, but if I'm being honest her church does strike me as a tad anti-Catholic. But at any rate, yesterday she asked me if I had gone to Mass, and if I had gotten a palm. I told her that I had.
"Oh yeah? Your mother usually saves me a little palm. I like to put one with the cross that I hang in my bedroom."
That made me smile. You can never fully take the Catholic out of a person. :) She obviously is still attached to the traditional Palm Sunday of her youth. I'll make sure my mom got her a palm this year, because if she forgot, my grandmother can have one of the *6* that my children commandeered.
It does feel good to be Catholic, especially during Holy Week.