Thursday, March 11, 2010

Worshipping at the Church of Hockey

Mr. Sane just called. An e-mail at school reminded him that there was a sophomore class family Mass this Sunday, and he wanted to know what our schedule was to see if he could go. I’m sure he was wondering what our schedule was in terms of whether either of us had to be at a particular Mass – I’m a reader, and we both assist with Communion. But my first thought was, “It looks like we’re going to the 12:00.”

“Why’s that?” he asked.

“Because Alpha has three possible times for tournament games which rule out the 8:00 and the 10:00, and her game on Saturday conflicts with the Vigil.”

If you have children playing sports, you have probably encountered the proliferation of Sunday morning games and practices. It seems that no matter what sport kids participate in, they’re going to have something on Sunday mornings. I think even the CYO (that’s Catholic Youth Organization, for you non-Catholics out there) schedules things for Sunday mornings – I’ve seen teams attend Mass together, and while some of those may simply have been for team unity and to emphasize the fact that they are, indeed, a Catholic organization, there have been times it seems pretty clear the team is heading straight from church to a game.

So, for us churchgoing folk, balancing sports and worship isn’t a no-brainer. Friends of ours whose son is on Beta’s team call hockey “the Catholic sport,” not only because it seems half the kids on the team go to school either at St. Anonymous or at Holy Moley, but because we have the option of multiple Mass times. Protestant folks, it seems, often have only one service, and, depending on the denomination, that may last long enough to conflict with just about any game or practice time. The obligation to attend isn’t the same as for us Catholics, but the spirit hungers, just the same.

But Catholics do have that obligation to attend Mass every Sunday (fortunately, the Church celebrates an extra-long Sunday, including Vigil Masses on Saturday evenings). Plenty of folks don’t bother – at one point, I was talking to one of the other hockey moms, whose kids attend Holy Moley, about the need to juggle, and she said, “Oh, didn’t you know? You belong to the Church of Hockey now.” In our house, we don’t ignore the obligation, however. Since we both assist at Mass, we need to be in communion with the Church, and if finding a Mass that fits the schedule is hard, finding a confession time that fits is even harder. (And I don’t like going to Confession, either, not since that monsignor yelled at me....)

So our weekend schedules get... interesting. There have been tag-team weeks, when both girls have had games: “OK, if you’re taking Alpha tomorrow, you need to go to church tonight,.’cause her game’s in the middle of the morning on the far side of town, so that obliterates all the morning Masses – unless you’d like to find one out there. I’ll take Beta to her game tonight while you’re at Mass, and then we can get up early and go to church before her game.” There are the close-call weeks, as when I took Alpha to church in her long johns and warm-ups, so we could then drive straight to her game – and were late anyway, because I got caught in a notorious speed trap that every Clevelander knows. There are the weeks we hunted around for another church that would fit the schedule – the next parish east has a 6 pm Sunday Mass, and one southeast of us has one at 6 pm Saturday. And there’s the total craziness in our own parish.

We try to plan ahead of time, but our parish has just changed schedules – and in between, the bishop came to celebrate Mass, and that week, the schedule was set up around when he could come. So one week, Masses were at 8, 9:30, and 11:30; the next, they were at 7:30, 9, and 11, and the following week, they were at 8, 10, and 12. That middle week, Beta had a 10:00 game, so instead of rushing to get out of gear and get to the 11:30 as planned, we had to roust her for the 7:30. Beta is not a morning person.

But it’s March, and hockey season is almost over. Now the baseball and softball moms can deal with it. Bwa-ha-ha!

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