I was standing at the front of the class, fresh out of Mass. I’d like to say it was a room of fresh-faced fifth graders, but the truth was, we were all tired.
I asked them who had been at Mass.
A few hands went up.
“And why were you at Mass? What were we celebrating?”
“Advent!” They were triumphant. They were confident. They were sure.
And they were WRONG.
Our Mass last night was the Vigil for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, but I didn’t tell them that. Realizing that we had a slight misunderstanding about when Mass was, I tried rewording my question, rephrasing my expectation, hinting and hinting.
One of the students (whose mom is an aide in the class and who sat right behind my family in Mass) knew that it was a Holy Day of Obligation.
But no one–NO ONE–knew WHY we were at Mass.
It wasn’t in my plan for the evening to talk about the Immaculate Conception. I do have a habit of sending them home with a bit of trivia and rewarding them with chocolate prizes if they come the following week with the correct answer. And so this week’s trivia was to come back next week and tell me what holy day we were celebrating this week.
But wow…I had a moment there in front of that class. I couldn’t help but wonder if my own children (ages 6, 4, and 1) had any idea what we were doing in Mass. (I’m pretty sure no.) I started, in fact, to have a little mental bash-fest with what a failure I am as a catechist to these fifth-graders and to my own children.
But wait! It’s not too late! TODAY is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and, thankfully for all of us, there’s next year, and the year after, and…well, it’s an ongoing thing for us. When we fail (as we will), we must not give in to the temptation to despair and give up.
When my six-year-old gets home from school today, we’ll be doing some of her very favorite things: coloring. Because to her, nothing says “fun” like a printable.
While I’m at it, I’m going to do some reading about the Immaculate Conception, so that I’m prepared to explain it to my fifth-graders next week. In case you need some resources too, here are the ones I’m using:
- Information on the Immaculate Conception from the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent and Fisheaters.com
- Small, achievable ideas for kids at CatholicMom.com (including crossword puzzles and yes, coloring pages!) – this post is a couple of years old, though I think all the links still work in it
- Ideas for celebrating the Immaculate Conception in your home at Catholic Culture