Faith of Our Fathers

I remember well going to Mass as a student at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom (Academy), and later as registrar, and seeing the dads at St. Hedwig's parish in Barry's Bay, Ontario. We're talking about the dads of those families where all the kids came pouring into Mass, always late, with the dad trumping in with his big winter boots and jacket, holding a kid, or two, or three, plus a diaper bag, car seat, some odds and ends winter mitts and scarves picked up along the way, and a Latin Missal so that he can translate the Mass into Latin. Let me continue the stereotype: The dads are always tired, unshaven, wearing Mass clothes (never jeans) that are crumpled, old, and tucked in at the front only. They'd be spaced out. Their kids would predictably take advantage of them too, and sneakily act up from time to time. What were these dads doing? Certainly not praying, right?

I'd look at that and shake my head. Not too hard, mind you. I wouldn't want a hair to come out of place as I looked all spiffy and proper in my altar boy clothing. I thank you Lord that I'm not like them... nor ever will be, of course... In charity, as I would walk by these families holding the processional cross I would be sure to walk with great confidence and zeal. With professionalism and apostolic purpose. Perhaps they will be inspired by this proper display of how to carry oneself at Mass? One does forget things when one gets older.

Sometimes a child or two of these dads would come to serve Mass as well. Heaven help us! They're wearing tan pants! With a black cassock?! I will try to protect these people from themselves. And so I would make sure these kids did NOT ring the bells, where such unsightly pants would be more noticeable. Perhaps they can simply wash the priest's hands. The altar will hide their pants for the majority of the parish who will be watching. 
                     Picture from Gear Bubble

Mass was full of such dads. They aren't as common out in Saskatchewan. There are some at the Traditional Latin Mass, but that's more or less all I've seen. I know I vowed to avoid such a la-ti-da attitude towards the Mass. Familiaris Consortio exhorts the family to be a sign to the world, after all! How can one be a sign of love to the world while taking up two parking spots with such a big van? Or speak of charity to others when holding one's kid in a headlock during the homily?

So I was a little surprised to see such a dad at Mass one night in my hometown. This dad was the prototypical unshaven space cadet, right down to the winter clothes and late arrival, whom clearly was taken advantage of by his son who was with him. I don't know why some dads are like this. Can it really be that difficult? Are they really that tired? Is this how they treat the Mass? Perhaps the Mass should've had a younger version of myself serving at the altar with great zeal. This example of piety would surely have impressed the struggling dad to greater zeal.

Then I distinctly remember the boy asking the dad a question. He said: "Dad, are you happy that I'm at Mass with you?" As my eyes focused in a little closer I noticed something peculiar...

...the boy was asking me.

And I thank you Lord, that I am now one of them.

NOTE: This story come from a previous post first written at the Millette Family Blog in November of 2014


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