I am quite embarassed to admit this but I allowed the birth of each child determine how often we attended mass. When my husband and I got married and discussed having children, we (he) agreed that our children would be raised Catholic and even attends mass with us when he is home.
My own church-going habits fluctuated throughout different points of my life for different reasons. I attended church again after we got married, while he deployed, and after the birth of our son.
I know some military spouses prefer finding a parish off base but I enjoyed attending mass at the chapel on base everywhere we have been stationed. Every city we were stationed may as well have been in a foreign country. Every region, let alone every city, has their own culture and customs that I felt too overwhelmed to try and adapt to.
I was on my own with a newborn. I had a lot of things going through my mind. Catholic mass felt like being home when I had no idea what the definition of home was. There is the expression of “Home is where the heart is” but if a big piece of your heart is deployed, where is home?
For many Sundays, home was a chapel with people who I believe where searching for the same thing. There were families, some with both parents, most with one. There were soldiers there by themselves, probably like me, thousands of miles from their nearest family members.
My favorite memory of Fort Gordon is bringing M to mass when he was a few months old. I sang and swayed slightly to the music (I can’t help it! Mass or club, party or car– I feel music inside of me bursting to come out!) and heard what sounded like a little lion cub. I looked down and this chubby little boy with fair skin and black hair and ears as big as Daddy’s grinned. I giggled and we sang together for dozens of Sundays afterward.
When we moved to Goodfellow AFB, M was a toddler and could not sit still. He was no longer singing along but babbling and asking questions during mass. Needless to say, that didn’t last very long.
At JEB Little Creek, the chapel had a… cry room. PHEW! I had not seen a cry room (a separate and usually soundproof room inside the chapel and allows you to be seen and not heard) since I was a child. A never sat still and crawled in and out of the pews while L was content sitting in my lap. Luckily everyone who sits in the cry room knows what is in store for them. Not that I let my children run wild in the cry room, but there were no Looks from others if and when my children got too loud.
This was about the time that M started asking about God and church and to be brutally honest, I did not know how to answer a lot of his questions so we set out to find answers together. We would attend mass early on Sunday and head over to Barnes & Noble to read a books about religion. I bought these books occasionally and now we have quite the collection, including a graphic novel of the Bible illustrated by one of the artists from Marvel comics!
When we finally moved out to California, we found a parish two miles from our home that a lot of children from the kids’ school attend. We, including R and my friends and family, have been welcomed into the community as if we had attended all of our lives…
So welcomed that we volunteer for various ministries… and often!
Though today is the first day of Advent, we will not begin our special project until tomorrow. One of the ministries shared an Advent calendar that the children get to cut up strips of paper commemorating each day of Advent and glue these strips together to form a paper chain. Each day has a special activity that we can do as a family.
Please join us as we celebrate the days of Advent. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
Light the first Candle on your Advent Wreath
This activity is from this link at Catholic Mom.