Over the holidays, my husband and children and I traveled to spend some time with my parents and our extended family. We were staying there for New Year’s and I asked my mom about the celebration of Mass on New Year’s Day, the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Ever since living the spirituality of communion of life with Christ through Mary, I have enjoyed celebrating this Feast more than before. My mom explained that there was only one Mass offered at her parish, as the Diocese was temporarily waiving the requirement for Catholics to attend Mass on this day. I recall expressing my disappointment over this waiver, as I thought Mass would be a great way to start off the New Year, not only for myself, but for the whole Church. I did not understand the purpose of the waiver, and thought of it as permission to ignore this holiest of days. I agreed it would be somewhat of a challenge to get up that morning, the day after New Year’s Eve, but asked my mom to wake me in time to rally everyone to get ready on time.
Well, little did I know that my previous sore throat would turn into a full-blown head cold AND my little daughter would come to me in the middle of the night, burning up with fever and a croupy cough. By the time my mother woke me, I could barely open my own eyes, let alone wake 5 young children and a husband.
My mom must have recognized this, because she suggested that she and my dad go to Mass and pray for all of us. She asked me what my kids’ favorite types of doughnuts were and off she went. As I laid my head back down, I couldn’t help but see the irony in the situation. Here I had been, critical in my judgment about the waiver of the obligation, and now I was benefiting from that very waiver. It turned out to have been a rough night for my husband dealing with our infant son, and so even though one of us technically could have rallied for Mass with our healthy children, it was a gift also to rest and recover from our difficult night without worrying about the obligation.