Photo Credit: Marquette University
The room was only half-filled with parishioners. We tried to sneak in quietly but the heavy doors creaked as we made our way inside. A few elderly women turned in our direction. But rather than the traditional sour stares one might expect, they smiled and nodded, winking knowingly.
“It’s okay,” they seemed to say. “You have a baby. We’ve been there. We understand.”
This isn’t our regular service. We normally attend the 11am service, but due to a poor night’s sleep for all three of us, we chose to slumber through the morning gatherings. Now, after spending all day lounging in pajamas and getting ready for the week ahead, we had rushed to attend the 6pm service.
A lone pew in the back of the church stood empty, and we quickly took up residence. The first reading had already been recited and the congregation was singing the first hymn. We settled ourselves as the second reading began.
Our daughter coos and giggles, making adorable faces at us. She is quiet and sweet, playing with Michael’s St. Benedict cross or my nursing necklace. Or she stands facing backwards, mesmerized by the beautiful stained glass windows that line the back of the church. The evening sunlight pours through them, twinkling brightly, and we are bathed in beautiful jewel tones.
We sing, we pray, we celebrate our Saviour. When she begins to fidget and fuss, her father takes her for a walk along the back of the church. Again, people turn and smile. She returns their smile with one of her own. It’s our favorite look: her eyes squint and she wrinkles her nose and grins widely, showing her cheerfully toothless smile. There are several soft giggles as people receive this wonderful gift from our beautiful girl.
When the call for communion comes, we quietly get in line and make our way forward. We participate in the most amazing part of our weekend — the reception of Christ’s sacrifice, the participation in the Last Supper. We receive the bread and wine with humility and awe, both honored and ashamed, meditating on the sacrifice our Savior made for us.
Once back in our seats, we sing joyously, and then begin our journey outside. The cold air is already making its way in as other parishioners make their way home. The priest greets us warmly, shaking my husband’s hand and making a funny face at our daughter, who smiles and giggles at him.
And we leave, blessed that our Lord is pleased to see us spending time with Him and His people, even when we are late.