"Wait. You're bringing ALL of your kids?"
Well, it was tempting to find a sitter and attend the upcoming Christ Our Life conference (September 24th-25th at Wells Fargo Arena!) like a "date" with my husband, but we decided to splurge and bring all of the kiddos for a couple of reasons.
1) You never know what a little kid is going to remember. Today, for example, I was with my 5 year old alone in the van and she started telling me about the Trinity. "Three People, but only One God." I asked her more about it, then I asked her how she knew that. "Jesus," was her blunt reply. Of course, I thought, she's five. She doesn't know where she learns things, she just absorbs things. This is a huge reasons why we expose our little kids to so many people, places, ideals, and ideas: because it's the best and easiest time to form their character. It couldn't hurt for her to attend Mass at the COL conference with 7500+ people, with a magnificent choir of over 100, and a bunch of smiling happy Catholics who are talking constantly about Jesus.
2) It's important for our children to know that they aren't alone. Way back in the day when I was 14, I remember my first "large group" Catholic experiences. We were the minority in my town, and most of the Catholics in our parish looked to my teenage eyes like they were only there for roll call. The exposure to the "Universal Church"--the large body of fired-up believers--was a game changer for me. The Christ Our Life Conference is happening at Wells Fargo Arena, where my kids go to concerts, and Disney on Ice, and sporting events. To see the wider Church step into the light will help me as a parent when my kids think my husband and I are the only weird ones. Nope. The Body of Christ that you are part of isn't just our Domestic Church, kiddo. It is a big, big thing.
3) They still talk about the last one. Learning about Mary's Meals from Magnus McFarlane-Barrow and having their shirt signed by Immaculée Ilibagiza, and singing with Steve Angrisano are still great memories that they talk about today. Even four years ago when 1.5 year old Lucy was fussing and I couldn't stay in and listen, it still turned into a fabulous experience. I herded her into the Adoration Chapel (always set up on the floor level under the stands) and she knelt with me in the back. I closed my eyes for just a second and she ran, I mean, bolted, up to the front. As I tried to hurry and chase her, she stopped exactly under the tabernacle with Jesus exposed in the Monstrance above it. She knelt there in silence, POINTING up at Jesus for what felt like an eternity, but was probably 30 or 40 seconds. Then she turned to the adorers behind her, her chubby little finger still pointing at our Lord. "Jesus!" she said, then she turned forward again and exclaimed again, "Jesus!"
Even if the kiddos don't get it on the same level as the adults, I decided that it's okay. They're fresher from God than we are, anyway. They'll get what He wants them to get. My job is simply to let them come!
You can get your tickets after Masses this weekend or on the web at http://www.christourlifeiowa.com! You get a discount if you don't wait to get them at the door of Wells Fargo Arena!