A Letter to Frankie about Mom’s Mass Survival Tips

If you are not familiar with the Catholic Toddler Letters of Frankie and Adam, please check out
An Open Letter to the Church Lady
The Catholic Toddler Letters: Adam’s Letter to Frankie (2)
Frankie Gets A Penpal (3)

and now A Letter to Frankie about Mom’s Mass Survival Tips:

Dear Frankie,
I know what you mean about being the youngest. Some people think it’s all hand-me-downs, missing hot wheels’ track and a whole lot of toy sharing…but I think it’s great. My older sisters and brothers pave the way for me and I only have to think of the occasional crazy stunt… to keep Mom on her toes.
As for Mass Survival Tips, I found a few things written on the back of a Christmas card and I think it can only be my Mom’s list. I have a feeling that this isn’t an exhaustive list! I’ve done my best to put this list to the test, so I think my Mom is eager to compare notes with your Mom, but here it goes:
1.    Mass Prep/ Pep Talk. It’s been a while since most of her kids were under 8 or so….but Mom used to coach a little on the way to Church, hoping for best behavior…and the kids would join in, finishing the sentences…
“when everyone stands, we stand;
 when everyone sits, we sit,
when everyone kneels, we kneel
when everyone sings, we sing,
when everyone prays, we pray 
and when everyone is quiet, we’re quiet.”
 and repeating the words:
“no whining, 
no screeching, 
no poking, 
no throwing things, 
no crawling under the pew, 
no fighting…”
Now my older siblings seem to know the drill…
but I still think outside the box.

(this picture is not OUR family, by the way,

but they look like they’d be fun kids to play with!

Awesome picture from Totus Tuus Family)

2. VIP Seating.
Sit near the front so that the kids can see what’s going on. (I like this too…it’s easier to get more people’s attention from the front of the Church.=)
3. Emergency Exits. This has a lot to do with location in the pew. We try to sit at the end of the pew, on the outside aisle.  If I’m really loud, they take me out. Most of the time, I manage to get some alone time with Dad at the back of the Church…and it’s just a question of how early in Mass we wind up back there.  Some people insist that I should be allowed to praise God in my own way, but sometimes my parents just feel it’s right to get me out of there.
I guess my parents might grow out of this phase…they’d probably say that I will.

Hey Frankie, what’s the deal with the other people (without little kids) insisting on sitting at the end of the pew so that it’s really hard for parents to leave the pew with a screaming kid?

4. Bring quiet Church-friendly books or cards.
I know that this probably worked better with some of my older siblings who were a little more satisfied with sitting quietly.

I’ve heard my Mom talk about these Reverence & Awe Collector Cards

that our family actually publishes and how she used to give my brother one card at a time, to keep him busy identifying the Vessels, Vestments and Church furniture.  
I also noticed that she bound a deck of these cards with a zip-tie before she let me bring them….just in case I had ideas about flinging them around and hiding them under the pew.

You can find them at the
Arma Dei Shoppe

My Mom also has a paper craft kit called Color MeCatholic. You should check it out! I haven’t exactly done this craft yet, because they are reluctant to give me scissors, markers or crayons, but I think I could try it at home and bring the little booklets to Mass.

5. You snooze, you lose. 
This isn’t exactly about sleeping in the pew.
Remind the older kids to participate…and ask questions about the Gospel and homily after Mass. I’ve noticed that my Mom keeps reminding my older sisters and brother to answer the proper prayers and sing the hymns. They don’t seem to have a problem singing in the shower, or acting out a whole dialogue from a movie, but sometimes they need a nudge to say all the right Mass responses.
You know…there are even a couple that I can handle! I’m happy to participate, but I can’t read yet. I notice that sometimes people give me a funny look when I sing…especially when I sing the Alleluia at the wrong part of the Mass…or when I’m veering down our luge run in the backyard, but that is another story.
6.  Relay Mass Attendance or Divide and Conquer
Now, although one of our favorite priests recommended this to Mom when she was a ‘newbie mom’ and pretty idealistic and determined that her kids would learn as babies what Mass was all about…I think she recognizes the value of
occasional Relay Mass attendance.
This means that my Mom takes a couple of kids to one Mass and my Dad takes the other kids to another…everyone that is, except for me. While it’s nice to attend Mass as a family…I suspect that everyone can concentrate just a little bit more without me entertaining distracting them.
We have also found that while some of us prefer the Saturday evening Mass, my 6 year old sister likes the 9am Mass with the children’s Liturgy and my Mom and big sister prefer the 12:30 Mass that’s not crazy busy and has our family’s favorite music. Mass is Mass, but some of us behave better when we can connect better to what’s going on.
 (Awesome picture from Totus Tuus Family)
7. Regarding Church Illness a.k.a Floppiness in the Pew Syndrome
Described as sudden onset of extreme fatigue, matching suspiciously close to the time frame of Mass, this condition seems to be linked to the interior of the Church and specifically sitting in a pew. Symptoms include inability to focus, listen or remain upright and a strong tendency to lean on the closest family member. Illness seems to miraculously disappear upon leaving the Church and basic well-being, appetites and energy are restored simultaneously.
Although, most of my siblings seem to have outgrown this phenomenon, I reserve the right to feign, to suffer this condition. I suspect that my parents will remain skeptical and stay on the alert.

8. Extra Visits to the Church. OK, I added this one after we snuck over to the Church to take these pictures this morning! Don’t tell Mom I told you! It was a nice chance to look around, pray a little and let Mom give me a little tour.  I can’t promise exemplary behavior at Mass this Sunday, but every little bit of practice helps!

Well, those are our Mass Survival Tips. I can’t wait to hear about yours!
love, Adam

PS My Mom found this other awesome family resource for attending Mass. This one quotes a letter by
St Padre Pio, over at Totus Tuus Family & Catholic Homeschooling (some of the pictures on this post come from this awesome website as well!)

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing my photos. I think yours are terrific!

    More importantly, this is a wonderful, helpful and delightfully creative post, Monica! I just love it and will be sharing it. I especially like the idea to visit Church on days other than Sunday to talk about it. A short visit and prayers can help practice reverent behavior.

    God bless your beautiful children. We know that all the children are a delight to Jesus and a reminder to the parish that they’ll be the future of our faith.

  2. LOL! Oh how you made me feel like a “normal” mom by reading this. Good to know. I’ll have to pass the word onto my kiddos now.

  3. what are your thoughts on snacks for toddlers in Mass? Our pastor is adamant that there be no food or drink in Mass even for toddlers. I confess, a sippy cup of water and a non-messy cookie have been used to buy me 5 minutes of quiet.

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