Sundays are reserved for going to Church and household chores. When we get unusually great weather, we drop the household chores from the To Do list. We usually get sucked in the fog, so a glorious warm sunny day warrants a day outdoors. Hearing Mass though is never taken out of our Sunday ritual.
That’s why it surprises me no end why my son still grunts and digs his heels when we get ready to go to Church. To the same Church that we have been going to for the past 10 years, the same Church that he and his younger sister were baptized, the same Church where I got married.
The children have always gone to Church with us. As infants, we would bring quiet toys for them to play with. As they got older, the toys were replaced with notebooks and pens, and chapter books. But at some point I told myself, these distractions should be left at home. I immediately thought about how young children in Manila are taught how to behave in church. I wondered what my parents did for me to like going to church.
Here are some of the questions that my 7-year old Pilosopong Tasyo would ask me as soon as he hears, “Magbihis na, sisimba na tayo.” (Dress up, we are going to Church):
Why do we need to go to Church when we already pray EVERY night (emphasis his)? Why do I need to go to Church on Sunday when I already heard Mass on Friday? (He used to go to a school that celebrates Mass every Friday.) Why some of his classmates don’t even go to Church.
I would follow him up to his room and as he is dressing up, sighing and grunting no end, I would say:
We go to Church because as Catholics, that’s what we believe in. We attend Mass because praying with others is just as important as praying privately. It’s good that your school celebrates Masses on Friday, but we still go on Sundays. I don’t know why your friends don’t go to Church.
These answers are just repeated every Sunday like a broken record. I use the same tone of voice that I use when I tell him that he needs to brush his teeth. Admittedly though, there are some days that I am more patient in answering his questions. But every Sunday, he goes to Church with the rest of the family.
I think we hit a breakthrough just this weekend. My son got ready for Church and participated in Mass. There was no checking of my watch and counting the minutes before it is over. Maybe it was because he was receiving his “Fourth Holy Communion”; maybe he realized that “there was no getting around it, so why bother”. At this point, I just hope that I am able to impress upon him that as Filipino Catholics, we go to Church as a family every Sunday.