A constant struggle…

March 9, 2009 at 2:31 am (Community, Faith, Interfaith, Kids, Music)

In my family we have a Jew, a Catholic and the three little Jatholics. Sam, the Jew, is not currently very observant, but his Jewishness is an essential part of his identity. I, the Catholic, am very observant. The three little kids are too young to decide for themselves, but the oldest, at six, attends a Catholic parochial school. However, although we belong to it, that school’s parish is not where we primarily attend mass. Instead, I sing in the choir and cantor at the cathedral downtown, as opposed to the parish down the street. This is for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is the fabulous music at the cathedral.

However, as a Catholic mom, one of my primary responsibilities is to educate my children in my faith. Neither the three-year-old nor the baby currently get a lot out of Sunday mass, but the six-year-old is old enough to get something out of going, so my options are the following:

A. Stop singing downtown and go with the kid to the church down the street where she can attend the children’s liturgy.

B. Take the kid to mass downtown on Saturday evening and then go back myself to sing on Sunday morning.

C. Get my Jewish husband to take all three kids to the church down the street on Sunday morning while I’m at church downtown.

D.  Take the kid downtown with me on Sunday morning and get my dad, who has already been to church on Saturday evening, to watch her while we practice and then sit with her during mass.

E.  Go to church downtown by myself on Sunday and don’t worry about the kid’s religious education since she’s at a Catholic school.

Did I forget anything? The truth is that we’ve tried all of these options and there are positives and negatives of varying degrees to all of them.

A.  It’s a nice, involved community at our parish church. The place is packed, and there are tons of young families and kids. It feels really alive. Riley really loves the children’s liturgy and there’s a nursery that Henry and Lucy can play in. I like the pastor and the associate pastor too. However, the music is…it’s just not…I don’t want to be snooty. I mean, I am by nature pretty snooty, but…Here are concrete things I can say: the piano always sounds out of tune. The repertoire is really heavy on sort of 70s/80s church music, you know, the Glory and Praise songbook? It’s the kind of music that takes me right out of the liturgy instead of lifting me up… Plus, and maybe this is just me projecting, but I feel like there’s this de facto rule that families with young kids sit in the back…well, the problem with that is that young kids don’t pay attention to anything if they can’t see what’s going on. My kids are so much louder and more fidgety in the back of the church than in the front. The biggest negative here however is that I would hate, I mean hate to give up the choir at the cathedral. I have dear friends there, and I love making music with them.

B.  This is a great option, but difficult to put into practice. I love going to church with my whole family. I love going to my church with my whole family. However, I’ve never been a Saturday night church-goer. Church is for Sundays! and the weekends get so busy, it’s hard to make the commitment to go twice. Also, and this goes for the rest of the options too, I feel bad about not participating at our school’s church.

C.  Sam doesn’t mind taking the kids to church, but it’s a little weird, I think, if I’m not there. Plus, I feel like it really isn’t his job. And why do I get the benefit of really great liturgy while they don’t?

D.  This is what we’ve been doing the last few weeks. On the plus side, I think my daughter and my dad both get a lot out of the time they’re spending together. My dad has already been to mass, so he’s really able to concentrate on helping my daughter follow along and participate. While I’m not sitting with them, I do see them, and it makes my heart happy. Today as I passed by during communion, my daughter was fiddling with the pockets on my dad’s cargo pants, which cracked me up on several levels, of which the funniest to me was my dad wears cargo pants? Nevertheless, I feel a little guilty about it, like I’m shirking some responsibility. What can I say, I’m Catholic?

E.  This is not actually a realistic option. That was a test.

So yeah, D is where we’re at. I don’t think there is a perfect solution, but maybe I’m wrong. Have I missed any options?



  1. gill0270 said,

    The glory and praise songbook rocks. Marty Haugen and Dan Schuette are the way to go.

    • batsinthebelfry said,

      I like that stuff too, but not exclusively. You’ve got to throw in some old stuff too sometimes. There’s such a rich tradition…

  2. Mike Miller said,

    I hope the above commenter is being sarcastic. I remember those tunes from DHS as well as countless Masses in various parishes in that era. The thing I remember best is that *I*, as the proud owner of a G&P, was able to teach *myself* to play “Blest Be The Lord” on a rinky-dink keyboard in about an hour. I think that included the time it took to teach myself to read music.

  3. Lost said,

    What would God want you to do? Would he mind where you go to church? Should you mind?

    • batsinthebelfry said,

      well, that is just the $64,000 question, isn’t it?! 🙂

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