All for One Sunday Mass?

“I can’t do this Sam.”

I feebly utter this line to my wife every time we return from a Latin Mass trip to Saskatoon. And no, her name isn’t Sam, but Becca. That would be weird having a spouse named Sam.

As I am sure you remember, Frodo spoke this line first to Samwise Gamgee while he carried the ring towards Mordor. When I repeat these words to my wife, somehow I picture her responding with an inspirational, “I know, it’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are…” Instead I’m given the look of, “stop moping and help get the kids out of the van.”

So yesterday we returned from another trip to Saskatoon. To attend a Latin Mass is a three day process. First, on the Saturday all preparations must be made. Food. Clothes. Vehicle maintenance. Sleep strategy. The second day is the actual trip; more on that later. The third day involves dealing with overtired kids on a Monday. Which is where we're at as I write this.

You see, as responsible parents, we make plans. And then, as happened this past Saturday, all those plans inevitably get thrown out the window…

Our little 7 week old boy (Jude) had a bad fit of crying on Saturday around 6pm. I wasn’t there to witness it. I was in the basement lifting weights. When I came upstairs my wife told me Jude was not at all happy. Me, being the generous and loving husband, responded with some good news to cheer her up: “Well, I just bench pressed my new personal record!” I think she was so amazed that she didn’t even respond. Speechless, I guess.

So we panicked and quickly rushed off to our usual Saturday evening Mass (we go on Saturday nights because there is no – or not much – hippy singing). If Jude was to cry all night, then we would be unable to go to Saskatoon, and so our Sunday obligation would be covered by the Saturday night Mass. Unfortunately, this little Mass add-on to our plan messed up the sleep plan.

The kids went to bed later than what is needed. We had our two youngest up for long stretches of the night. I finally gave up sleeping at 4am. Becca, being a quitter, gave up on sleep much earlier. 2am.

Nevertheless, we dragged ourselves out of bed at 5:15am, prepped for Mass, then prepped the kids (who were delighted to be dragged out of bed in the cold darkness…), and drove 2.5 hours to Saskatoon.

The Latin Mass was worth it. It always is.

Afterwards we chatted with many friends in the basement of the church. It always amazes me how you can talk with people who are so joyful and excited, then you start scratching the surface and find out they are going through horrific sufferings and trials.

After the Mass and coffee time we stopped by to watch a niece do her tryouts for the Saskatchewan gymnastics team, before hitting the road. There was much whining and complaining the first part of the trip home, but eventually the parents settled down and let the kids fall asleep. Total exhaustion.

Becca and I prayed another rosary, always thinking about the Mass we left behind, the people too, and their suffering. Somehow, we dream of one day joining this?

The kids were amped up when we got home. Eventually the evening wore on, and we all tumbled into bed exhausted. This morning there are many tears. I might have to sneak away and lift weights. It’s hard. In fact, I’m not sure how long we can keep trucking four young children around on Sunday mornings for one Mass. I… I can’t do this. And the stories of sufferings people share with us... Do you understand?

Then I hear Samwise’s words echoing back… “But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.”

Right you are, Mr. Gamgee. Right you are. We are holding on to something indeed.

Our Lady of Czestochowa Church - Saskatoon, SK


  1. It would seem that our insanity (driving a distance for mass with a family )
    may actually bring perspective and maybe even "sanity" to our lives. What do you sacrifice for? If it is the Mass, ones time cannot be better spent. Especially since one gets to look past the veil and peer into eternity if only for a moment.

    1. As with most things, there is a balance needed. Excessive travel can be hard, and even harmful, on a young family. Yet often we are starved for the graces gained from this Mass. It's always a matter of prudence!

  2. If I may share my own experience... I have five children ages 4-16, we tried home schooling for a number of years. We even had a hybrid homeschool situation we were able to arrange with a Greek Orthodox school near us, and that was a very "traditional" experience. Nonetheless, we were very Jewish in a Christian world-around-us, and there were no other Jewish children.

    I came upon your blog round-about from traditional Catholic circles. We are Catholic. But we weren't; I left the Catholic faith in college for a variety of reasons, many of which you doubtlessly understand yourself about "modernism" or progressivism in the Church, etc. However, there is one issue that never gets the light of day in the traditional community- and that is the frequent absense of a day to day "community" where kids can walk down the street to their Catholic friends' houses to talk, play, eat a snack, etc. Not only do you drive 2.5 hours to Latin Mass on Sunday, but so do many of your peers.

    This is a problem, bigger than you can imagine, and I plead with traditional/any Catholics... no worldly community, job, or living situation is worth the expense of being distant from your faith home. If you are rooted in a faith community, move to its center and develop daily connections within it. Especially if you have kids. It will save their souls (and yours). Take the smaller house. Rent. Get another job. Do what needs to be done. But live near your Church. Walking distance is best.

    God bless you,

    1. I will admit, your comment gave me chills. Undoubtedly our primary concern is our children. Anyway, you give plenty to think about. Thank you.

    2. A few things more to consider, and all of this requires very much prayer and discernment. I was wooed by Orthodox Judaism for the community feel. I grew up, my teen years essentially "hours" away from a Church with teens when we moved away. It was easy to leave the Church. However, once in Judaism and married, moved to the cheaper but much larger (and harder-line) section of the Baltimore community. We fell into the trap again, bigger house in the older, harder-line and more crime-ridden section of the community; too far to walk to the trendy synagogues with kids. We couldn't handle the harder line, there were few to no young families, and our interactions with others were mostly negative (ie. you don't wear dresses to the floor, eat this brand of kosher, etc.). We moved right back out, jaded now after spending lots of money to move in, and 4 hours into the "wilderness."
      After we had our Catholic conversion experience - which for the kids, since they were in a Christian hybrid school situation, was pretty easy - we went to the closest parish. No kids, but this was good to get faith-acquianted. Then, they started Catholic school. They had connections, but not until we switched to that (progressive) parish did it really start to boom. And even so, it took months. But, other friends who do not live close to the school, one moved farther away for a huge house, are left in the dust relationship-wise. They do not come to Church, just do school.
      The school is a big deal too, but its not a deal breaker. Having faith based kids close by is truly a big deal though. If you do decide to move, it may be worth considering other communities farther away for a bigger/better package: the school, Catholic high schools, Aquinas study groups, sodalities, home school coops, service opportunities (huge kid bonding opportunity in service btw) etc. Lastly, you may need to look harder at your local N.O. parish. Maybe its worth embracing the hippy Mass if that's where the other kids go, if that's when there's children's Church, or moving is not an option. We have found more conservative friends in our progressive parish, and our kids naturally gravitate to the conservative kids.
      With God all things are possible. Do lots of praying. We are a family of seven in a very small 2 bedroom 1 bath house. But the kids are thriving. My wife is dealing with sleeping in the living room (I tell her, New York city style!), and gets grumpy about this, but they are thriving.
      God bless you,


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