Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Family Matters, Part 2
by Father Mark Pautler, for the Inland Register
(From the January 21, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)
In last month’s QA, I mentioned that I would spend Christmas in Reno visiting my sister. This marked the first time in 40 years that I had not been in a parish or another ministerial assignment. What was it like?
First, a little background. Vince and Kathleen live part of the year in their home a few miles south of Reno’s city center. Most of the year, they seem to live in their RV. The Reno home, however, is closer to where three of their four children and six of their seven grandchildren live. Years ago, when her family was much younger – when we all were much younger – they had lived in Reno. Mom and Dad visited several times. In fact, these trips continued long after the Laubachs left Reno. Mother, you see, had developed a “problem.” The five cent slots gripped her as firmly as she grasped the bandit’s arm. Those were the good old days when you put real coins into the slot and it dispensed actual nickels that clattered into the coin catcher. Alas, poor Mother was incurable, and sometimes inconsolable. I recall one $40 jackpot, but more often than not, her nickel stash purse returned to Walla Walla lighter than when she departed. But her spirit would always rebound. Enough nostalgia.
I arrived in Reno on Dec. 23. A gentle snowfall that evening meant that Reno would have a white Christmas. The Laubach household was filling up. Justin, Rebecca, Sarah and Ilan, with five of the grandchildren, were there. Joe and Marlow would arrive after a very long day’s drive from Seattle! Matthew and Theresa came the day after Christmas.
The big event that everyone looked forward to was, of course, Midnight Mass. Well, not exactly. Midnight Mass is not compatible with six little ones age five or younger. Let’s face it. Mass at any hour is not compatible with children of this age, or even older. There was no Midnight Mass, but as is the case in most parishes, there was an early evening family Mass (4 p.m.), much more compatible with young families. St. Rose of Lima Parish features a new church building (2003) with 180-degree seating, and padded seats. The pastor, Father Morrison, engaged the children in a dialogue homily; and there were gifts for the kids. Little Mark, my 5 year old great nephew, was not about to get pulled into the homily, but he was all in when it came time for the gifts.
No matter what we want to believe, the Mass is not a kid-friendly event. Come to think of it, not a few adults feel the same way. But it’s what we have. It’s what we have been given. Would we really do that much better were we to deconstruct the liturgy and rebuild it from the ground up? Maybe. But in the meantime, we can work to make the best of what we have. And I will remain thankful for and encouraged by my niece and nephews and families like them, who make the Mass matter in their family life, as difficult as that challenge is.
The real main event, bigger than Mass, bigger than dinner, was gift opening time. This is not a Christmas Eve event. (Christmas Eve is not kid-friendly, but we don’t deconstruct Christmas because of it). In Grandma Kathy’s home, the main event comes on Christmas afternoon, before we take the tree down (just kidding). We adults were beside ourselves with anticipation. The grand opening was delightful, everyone receiving prizes and surprises. There was something for everyone. Well, there were more than one or two things for the children. What was memorable? Little Mark gravitated to his Star Wars figures and showed adeptness at assembling them – without referring to the directions. In his day, Big Mark had been adept at disassembling things, also without directions. Queen Isabelle (4) was delighted by her Frozen doll. Was it Anna or Elsa? I don’t know; she did. And she wouldn’t let it go. Solomon and Samuel (3) had an assortment of planes, trains and automobiles. The big hit there was the ambulance with the wheel chair ramp and stretcher. (Grandma was quite pleased with her choice). I had heard that little ones are content to play with the wrapping paper. Not these kids. But I did notice how a child carefully eyed his/her cousin as they opened their gifts.
The other anchor event for the holiday was the baptism of Naomi, the second child of Sarah and Ilan, that took place after Mass on Saturday evening, the Feast of the Holy Family. What an honor and a joy for me to celebrate new life and the life of faith.
It was, in sum, a very fun, very full, and very faith-filled Christmas. I was with family.
(Father Pautler is Judicial Vicar and Chancellor of the Spokane Diocese.)
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