The alarm blares from my side of the hotel bed. There’s no time for snooze. I pull my overworked body, groggy—and under-slept—to a sitting position, one foot at a time to the floor. I can do this: another full day of meeting, greeting, and talking in a new town, towing the three kids with my husband and me.
First stop; we prepare for daily Mass in the adjacent rural farm town. I get out of bed, dress myself, dress the kids, fight to put shoes on the littlest. The oldest is shadowing in the local school today. We pack her bag. Take some extra time to find a pair of tennis shoes for gym class. It always seems like the littlest details are the biggest burdens on a busy morning.
By the time we finally get out the door, load in the car, drop her off at the school, and make our way to daily Mass, it seems half the morning is gone. And I realize we’re going to be late! I feel defeated; all this effort was in vain. Being late isn’t new to any family, but the customary 15-minutes-behind means we show up after the first reading, past the psalm, the gospel is over, and the homily has just hit the climax.
The church is sparsely attended. Our small family just doubled the Mass attendance. We didn’t come in with silent lips and quiet feet as I would have preferred. Between the cries and juggling of 50 lbs. of kid-things or the 20 lbs. of kids, we resemble a circus act moving into town.
Undisturbed, the wise old priest continues along without a pause, gliding through his homily and right into the consecration. But I can’t focus on his words. What is the amount of Mass that we’re able to miss before we shouldn’t receive the Eucharist? Would it cause scandal if we come in late and receive Jesus? In the midst of my internal debating, everyone else has now received the Eucharist, and the priest motions us toward him. Like a good father beckoning us forward, his mercy and compassion are palpable and welcoming. We move forward, ever aware of the deep sense of unworthiness of such a kindness. This is the mercy of God, offering to us a gift when we have fallen short.
As we kneel back down in the pews after being united to Jesus, the priest abruptly cuts the silence, “A miracle has happened today.” So shortly after communion, my heart races, anticipating that there was a Eucharistic miracle right before our eyes.
“This family was able to make it to Mass.” Any other day, I might have been shocked by his words, but given our morning, the hustle and bustle, the fights and tears, I know he is absolutely right. Yes, Father, you are so right. Bringing our family, including the little ones to Mass, it was a miracle! We did it. We fought the good fight. God supplied the grace. The chorus of angles sings Alleluia. It was a miracle, this time and every time.