Spring is here. The birds are singing, the pools are warming, and the kids are running in the sprinklers. We look forward with hope to the end of another school year and our summer fun ahead. The world is filled with awe-inspiring beauty, laughter and love.

Until we have to pack up the family to go to Sunday Mass.

As a mom of four, there were times when the only awe or wonder I experienced in Mass was my wondering how we were going to get through the service. Being in Mass should feel like an event outside of time as we are in the presence of the Lord, but often it can seem as though it is the longest hour of the week. Parents meet this challenge by using childcare, bouncing babies in the back, or switching off Mass times like a wrestling tag team. Attending Mass together as a family can leave us focusing more on our children’s behavior (hush up, sit down, kneel right, stop touching your sister), than on the reality that we are in the presence of our Lord and Savior. In an attempt to keep our family from being disruptive, we can easily make the Mass experience more punitive than propitious, more scrupulous than benevolent.

The reality is, reverence for the Mass is an extension of our love for the Lord, which develops throughout life, starting with awe. We cannot expect our children to have the same appreciation of the Lord before they develop a personal relationship with Him. What we can do, however, is help introduce our children to God by cultivating their sense of awe in the world around them.

Awe is a complex emotion that is often the first step towards a personal awareness of the presence of God in our lives. Our world gives us plenty of opportunities to see God working in our midst. Each beautiful sunrise and sunset are a new opportunity to marvel at the Lord’s love for us. Frequently as we drive to or from soccer practices in the week someone in the car will point out the spectacular horizon and as the sun slips away for the day.

“God loves you so much. He created this today knowing you would see it and appreciate it”.

Let them be filled with awe, not just at the exquisiteness of the event, but that it is a creation from the Lord. He is the Divine Artist, creating beauty in the world for us to enjoy.

If you want your children to grow up with a deep love of and reverence for the Lord, start by helping them to see the little ways in which the Lord shows His love for them. Point out the little daily miracles we experience. Help them to grow in awe of His love and majesty.

We have so many jobs to do as a parent and countless things to teach our children. We often focus on helping them to develop obedience without realizing that healthy obedience comes from love. Without a foundation of love, we cannot ever expect a lasting obedience to form.

In the spiritual life, parents provide their children with an introduction to the Lord. Our parenting hopefully establishes a healthy pattern of interaction where love is the foundation for reverence and obedience. The first step is helping our children to see God around them, not only in the pew for an hour each Sunday, but in the other 23 hours of the day, every day of the week.

Ways to inspire awe this week:

  • Get out of the city and take a hike together.
  • Eat seasonally and talk about all the fresh fruit that is cultivated this time of year.
  • Plant flowers or a little vegetable garden and tend it together.
  • Take a sunset walk in the evenings.
  • Visit a museum and talk about the exhibits they find most interesting.
  • Encourage your children to ask questions and explore topics that fascinate them.

For practical tips on attending Mass with young children, see the recent post at www.maryruthhackett.com