Consider remaining in your church for five or ten minutes after Mass one Sunday a month to walk about explaining one piece of art in the church with a short, quiet stay before the Eucharist in the Tabernacle. It may be of a statue, an image, a stain glass window, or a part of the church such as the Sanctuary, the Sanctuary Lamp, a Baptistry, the Holy Water Font, or even the overall architecture of a church. You may then take a few minutes to sit before the Eucharist in the Tabernacle in thanksgiving for the Mass, the church, a saint you may have mentioned in your explanation, or solely for the Faith. If your parish church is named for a patron saint, maybe include a regular prayer to that saint as the true patron for your parish. Help your children understand that the patron saint is one to turn to for assistance in all affairs. Sts. Mary and Joseph statues are always present in churches.
Over time, your children will have become familiar with your parish church so you may consider making a pilgrimage to another parish church or a Shrine for your next special Sunday of church exploration after Mass. In such pilgrimages, you will visit churches each with their own art and devotionals. Certain elements will be recognized as universals for all churches while other aspects are particulars to this church or that church.
It was common that people would remain after Mass to offer prayers of Thanksgiving and Reparation. It was not at all unusual to see people make visits to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Parish’s Patron Saint, and others after Mass. There were also many who took the opportunity to make a walk through the Stations of the Cross after daily Mass, on Fridays in reparation or Sundays as it was the only occasion their schedule afforded.
Plan what you may focus on to teach your child(ren) about beforehand. Once you select the one item, do any necessary homework to bring yourself up to full speed. A quick search on the web can yield more than enough information for a short three to five-minute explanation. Maybe you can also find a short prayer that would be appropriate to copy and bring along for the family to offer.
A Church is God’s house, but it is also our home where we come to worship, pray, confide in God, and simply find rest. It is such a blessing to children to know of a place where they can have the Sacramental surety of God’s presence as the Eucharist assures. Adopting a regular monthly practice of sitting in the church for ten minutes or so after Mass demonstrates that it is not only okay to do, but creates a body memory for the children to follow later as adults. Some children do not even realize that the church building may be available for praying in outside a Mass.
You Are Sent In Mission
An important point to teach your children is that the Dismissal of the Mass is not a signal to leave religion behind until next week’s Mass. The Dismissal indeed means the Mass is completed and you may go, but the word ‘dismissal’ comes from the Greek word mission, which means being sent out in mission. It is after being liturgically strengthened in the Word and Eucharist that we are sent out into the world to as missionaries or ambassadors of Christ in the lives we lead. We are not to set our religion in the pews of the church along with the missalettes and hymnals for the next Mass. We are to carry it and demonstrate it wherever, to whomever we meet in our lives. An extra ten minutes spent in the church after Mass can help remind each of us that we are to extend the graces of the Mass throughout our week.
You are God’s Building
This may also prove to be a good time to explain and reinforce that a consequence of the Sacrament of Baptism is that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit along Jesus and the Father; the Most Blessed Trinity. Our persons are a form of church that allows us to bring God dwelling within wherever we go and to whoever we meet. We are (each) God’s building 1 Cor 3:9 and are always with God to whom we pray. We serve as portable chapels, or more accurately in God’s eyes, as Cathedral’s for His worship.
These post-Mass visits can be an excellent time to explain or reinforce that a consequence of the Sacrament of Baptism is that our persons are Temples of the Holy Spirit. We each have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father; the Most Blessed Trinity. Our persons are a form of church that allows us to bring God who is dwelling within wherever we go and to whoever we meet. We are (each) God’s building 1 Cor 3:9 and are always with God to whom we pray. We serve as portable chapels, or more accurately in God’s eyes, as soaring Cathedral’s for His worship.
When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6
In God’s eyes, the church building is a symbol of the greater cathedrals of each human person amongst us. From a single cell body onward, even the the human person is the cathedral to God that is not built by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:11 Anytime our person is attacked, it is a form of desecration or blasphemy to His Temple. Of equal importance, we must not be blind to the other person as a Temple or church of God. If we are to attack the other person, that too would be a desecration to God’s building.
Your parish church is God’s house for Him to meet His bride, the church. The Baptized are welcome to be with God in His home. God is thrilled to see His people want to spend time, even ten minutes, with Him in our home. Help your children to feel at home in God’s home for His bride, you.
Peace of Jesus in the womb of Mary be with you.
© 2019 Patrick A. O’Donnell All Rights Reserved