Finding the motivation to go to mass…

… This past Sunday morning was abysmal. Cold, grey, and rainy. The kind of morning that begs for sleeping late. I laid there for awhile trying to will myself to get up out of bed and push past the beginnings of a migraine.

I had almost convinced myself that this little act of willful laziness was completely harmless and perfectly understandable. It was a headache, for crying out loud. Can’t go to mass with a headache.

And then I remembered him. The man at church that sometimes catches my eye. He’s hard to miss and ever so dashing in his impeccable suit. Just the kind of motivation a girl needs to drag her listless body from the covers.

The gentleman I refer to is an elderly Veteran who’s missing a leg. I see him from time to time, with his portable oxygen tank slung over his shoulder.

Like a boss. A serious boss.

I’m sure you’ve got similar motivation in your own parish. They’re there every week despite crippling arthritis, shuffling along behind their walkers or being wheeled in by a family member. These champions of fortitude. These witnesses to a lifetime of faith.

Yes, sometimes they whisper too loudly and can be fiercely territorial when it comes to “their pew”, but they’ve earned their place and I love to see them there every week. Don’t ever treat the elderly in your parish contemptuously. Love them.

If it weren’t for them, representing and showing us young folks how it’s done, I could easily talk myself out of attending mass for the slightest ailment. I’m that convincing. And that lazy. Mostly just lazy though.

Some people, and you know who they are, like to point to the elderly population of a parish as evidence that the Church is dying. Or at least that particular parish is. But don’t you listen to them. Everyone serves a purpose and anyone can be an example. Remember, we don’t go to mass for ourselves.

I just pray that when I get older I’ll be at least half as determined and devoted to my church and God as the dashing old gentleman that puts most young men to shame.

Julian Fałat, Old Man Praying c. 1881

About Katrina Fernandez

Mackerel Snapping Papist

  • Ana Paula –

    A HELLO from BRASIL!

    Just beautiful. Just like that.

    May God bless your talent!

    Be in His love!


  • FranRossiSzpylczyn

    You make a most important point in a powerful way… We do not go to mass for ourselves, but one another. That is the essence of eucharist, to be one body in Christ, for Christ. I think of a young family at the parish where I work, with two small children, one of them disabled, and yet they get themselves out the door faithfully each week… And yes, all of those whose age alone would mean not going out, especially up here in this very bitterly cold winter. Yet, there they are.

    Thank you for this, which I might need to print and keep on my nightstand!

    • Katrina Fernandez

      I’m going to edit this post and add your very poignant observation… “we don’t go to mass for ourselves, but for one another”.

      I like that.

      THank you.

      • dan hunter

        We go to Mass primarily and foremost because of adoring God.

  • Melissa Hunter-Kilmer

    I needed to hear that today. Thanks very much, and God bless you!

  • Stu

    I always love seeing the “old-timers”, who at sometimes 90+ years old, approach the communion rail and kneel even with great difficulty.

    That’s leadership.

  • Stefanie

    The first person who welcomed me with delight to soon-to-be-my parish was an elderly gentleman holding a “welcome” pot of flowers. Then when I admitted that I wasn’t yet a new parishioner, he lowered the flower pot, “Oh, so you’re new but not registered? I’m supposed to give this to a new parishioner. Sorry about that.” And he looked around, trying to find a ‘new one’ who was wearing a nametag.
    It’s been 17 years since that day, but he and I still giggle about that experience and he’s always embarrassed when I tell him he is my favorite parishioner and how much I dearly love him. For ten years, he and I were partners-in-crime at the Welcome Table after all the morning Masses — I was promoting RCIA; he was promoting going to Mass at our parish. He actually started up the Welcome Table all by himself. In the cold, rain, heat; there he was. He would just wear more layers of clothes in cold weather. (We’re So Cal, so our “cold” is abit different than others.)
    He is still very passionate about our Catholic faith; he laments that many are not. He comes to every parish function and education class he can. He still believes in learning and listening — even though he doesn’t hear as well as he used to.
    He is now 92 years old. He moves slower, but always gets the biggest grin on his face and twinkle in his eye when he sees me. We no longer run the Welcome Table, but I do greet everyone who comes into “my” door of the vestibule (I open the door for them to enter the nave).
    He is such a treasure. I always tell him that I want to be him “when I grow up.” He loves that.

  • tj.nelson

    This post warms my heart. You are so thoughtful. Thanks!

  • CT Catholic Corner

    Beautifully said.

  • Katie in FL

    I am so excited to be back in the Church after being away for 30 years. Knowing now just what Mass is all about, I am so excited to be there every week, and even some weekdays. As far as the elderly in the Church, I have gotten to know many of these men and women in my Parish, and I have to say that they are not a sign that the Church is dying but that the Church is living! They are giving their lives away with volunteering, praying privately and corporately, and even working with the youth more than they ever had time for before retirement. I love these people!

    • Heather

      Welcome home!

      • Katie in FL

        Thank you, Heather!

  • Eugene Edward Yeo

    The little old choir ladies! They NEED ME!