Monday, July 13, 2015

Daily Mass: Not Just for Retirement

Welcome to my new blog. You can see a brief introduction to the focus of my blog here.

The only time I remember attending daily Mass, aside from church camps when I was younger, was when I was in Mexico for summer with my husband and our daughters (4 and 1 at the time). I had just finished my second year teaching, and we split our time between an urban city where some of his family lived and a rural community where he grew up. The weeks we were in the rural area there was an especially sharp contrast to the rush of a school year and the overall climate was peaceful and slow. An opportunity for daily Mass quickly became part of the rhythms of my day, until we shifted back to the city and when I eventually boarded the plane to head back to Oregon and another school year.

Though I had fond memories of being able to attend daily Mass, it was not a part of my reality as a busy, working mom trying to keep all the balls in the air. Instead, I viewed it as something I would really like to do once I was retired.

This winter while on break, I planned on going to daily Mass for a few days when both my husband and I had days off. Then something happened (I think either my toddler or I was sick), and I only went once, rather than the multiple days I had envisioned. I longed for those retirement days when daily Mass could be a part of our regular routine, not just vacations.

Then a seed was planted when I was at a First Communion retreat with my daughter this spring. Our youth minister encouraged us to attend daily Mass if possible. Shortly after, I was talking to another mom at our church asking if she went and about the timing. I realized that while I couldn't consistently go for the rosary at 7:35, that I could work toward making it to Mass at 8 AM 1-3 times/week. It didn't have to be an all or nothing decision.

That was my goal, but it didn't work out in the first week. The timing of our morning routine was off, and I didn't want to walk in late. Instead, that first week, I reflected on what I needed to change in order to make it happen. I thought about when I needed to wake up (and conversely go to sleep), what I needed to cut out of the morning routine, when we absolutely had to leave the house. I also saw the person I had talked to the week before after Sunday Mass and she said to go even if I was a couple of minutes late.

By the second week, I was ready to implement what I learned the previous week. The biggest surprise for me was that because daily Mass is shorter than regular Mass, the change impacted my morning routine with the girls more than it impacted my work schedule. Previously, it was fairly common that I ended up dropping the girls off at the latest time I could, instead of the half an hour before when parents can start dropping off kids. Then I still needed to drop our youngest off at day care. When I shifted my schedule to consistently dropping off at the earlier frame of the buffer zone, I was able to make it to Mass and then get to work about when I had been arriving many mornings anyway.

Especially in the first week of actually going, it took some fine tuning. However, once I got started, in the next few weeks, instead of being a goal for 1-3 times of Daily Mass, I realized that it was turning into a personal non-negotiable, something at my core. Unless there was something out of the ordinary, such as a field trip or an 8 AM meeting, I was going to be there every day.

My current position as a teacher educator provides more flexibility in my schedule than when I was a classroom teacher. Going to daily Mass still would not be possible if I had my 7:30 AM contract start time; however, realizing it would work in my current position made me think about the importance of not putting up obstacles without evaluating what really is set in our current lives and where there is flexibility. This is especially the case when thinking through a core lens, considering whether obstacles are in place because of something that is not at the core (such as computer time in the morning).

This year is all about thinking about those shifts, those possibilities and the alignment between the life I am living and what I most care about.

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