Nutcracker Craziness(tm) makes for a crazy schedule. The studio we work with makes sure that Saturday evening rehearsals end before 6 PM and Sunday rehearsals don't begin before 1 pm. So, any normal person would be able to get to a church service with no problem. We are not normal people. So, for two weeks, we (not Father) miss Saturday vigil at the little mission and Sunday Divine Liturgy at the big mission. We attend Mass at the closest parish to fulfill our obligation and feel bad that we aren't completely together as a family. It isn't often, though- so we go with it.
This year, 4 year old boy and 2 year old girl were especially squirrely. Do you remember Steve Martin when he was a "wild and crazy guy" on SNL? Boy used exactly that intonation when he said, "This church is craaaaaazy!" while we were seated listening to the Epistle. I don't know what was so crazy about it. He might have been reacting to the fact that it was a woman lector reading the Epistle instead of a male cantor singing it, but my boy couldn't clarify over my shushing him. He has been to Roman-rite Masses before (but usually in a hospital setting), so I don't know what was bothering him. Sometimes small children have a real problem with change.
Not receiving the Eucharist is the next hurdle. I prepped the four-year old by simply saying that they don't give the Body of Christ to little children at this parish. He was disappointed, but his age is perfect for accepting 'the rules.' The two-year old is another story all together. Going up the aisle to get a blessing from the priest, I had a pit in my stomach. I knew that she would throw a fit when she realized she would not receive Jesus, just a blessing. There was a little gap between the person in front of us and my family, so much so I guess that the priest decided that the line was done and went to the other side to help the Eucharistic ministers. So there was not even a blessing and a girl who was starting to throw a fit. So I communicated to my big girls to go hunt down the Eucharist if they desired to receive and to stay in church while I wrangled the two little ones outside.
We waited outside for Mass to finish. There was a table selling religious goods, and a woman handed me some information about the Fatima Mary statue that would be visiting the parish in a few weeks. Baby girl was still crying a bit and the kind woman asked, "Why is she crying?" I decided to throw caution to the wind and told her, "Well, we are Byzantine Catholics so she usually receives the Eucharist and she is upset that she couldn't receive here." The three women at the table were shocked when I continued, stating that we receive baptism, confirmation and First Communion as infants. They asked "Why?" I tried to keep it very simple- that the historic order of sacraments for all rites was confirmation before Eucharist no matter the age of reception, and that the Eastern way emphasizes our need for grace above book knowledge, and isn't it wonderful that the Universal Church in union with Rome has so many diverse rites? The kind woman gave me a weak smile and waved her hand in the direction of the RCIA booth- she said "Perhaps you would like to look into RCIA classes?" It was nice to be invited, but since I am already Catholic, I declined her offer.