For Ash Wednesday I took the girls to Dom’s office (he works at the chancery) to join him for Mass and then lunch. A nice bonus Cardinal Sean said Mass.
We got there just in time. The chapel was crowded but some people generously moved in so we could all sit together. For the first part of mass the girls were very good. As we sat down I’d noticed a smell and so I had to take Phia out as the first reading began for a preemptive diaper change. Then she was fine through the second reading, gospel and homily. She strained in my lap to see the Cardinal when he began speaking his homily; he has such a deep gravelly voice. Both girls got ashes smeared on their foreheads, which was a little surprising. I didn’t expect a babe in arms to get them.
But at the offertory Sophie started to get a bit fractious. I pulled out a little board book that retold the gospel story of Jesus walking on the waves. (Not my favorite, the illustrations are not lovely and the text is downright clunky and ungracious.) This occupied Sophie for a bit, though she started chattering fairly loudly in excitement.
Then as the Cardinal started into the Eucharistic prayer, she began to fuss and fret at full volume. There was nothing to do but hustle her out into the lobby. We sat there for the duration of Mass. Even though she calmed down as soon as we left the chapel, I knew she was too cranky to go back in. She’d just start crying again. So I let her eat some raisins and rice cakes and I watched part of the Pope’s Ash Wednesday procession on the lobby’s television screen.
As people left Mass many stopped by where we were sitting to ooh and aah over Sophie. Several commented how nice it was to hear a baby at Mass. Not too many small ones at the Pastoral Center’s daily Mass, I guess.
After that we accompanied Dom to the cafeteria for lunch. I had a grilled salmon on spaghetti and shared a fruit salad with Bella. We sat with several of Dom’s coworkers and had a nice visit. Then Anna, one of the ladies in Dom’s group, took Bella up to their office area for a piece of chocolate. (This morning when Dom told her we’d be coming to his office for Mass, Bella announced: “And after Mass, Anna will give me some chocolate.” Two year olds have an amazingly long memory and anything that happens once can be elevated to the status of ritual.)
It was nice to begin our Lenten journey as a family. I suppose that since I’m pregnant and not able to fast, that missing out on the Eucharist is a sort of fast. At any rate, it’s a sacrifice mothers become resigned to having to make every once in a while for the sake of everyone else’s peace.