What I Learned about Faith by Being Distracted in Church

A few months ago, our church held an hour of adoration following the Saturday evening Mass. My husband and I agreed there was no way the girls would sit through adoration (they can barely make it through Mass), but I really wanted to go. An hour to pray quietly, without being distracted in church by doling out snacks and dire consequences for not sitting still, sounded heavenly.

My husband put the girls to bed while I went. It felt strange to drive to church by myself, even stranger to walk in without carrying a child and a diaper bag. I slid into a pew closer to the back on the right hand side. After glancing around at the other people gathered, I tried to pray. I watched another mom I knew sit in front of me with her baby. I wondered if the girls were reading stories or playing with dolls.

What I Learned about Faith by being Distracted in Church

As Mass continued, I found I had to constantly drag my attention back to the prayers, the readings, the homily. Instead of making sure the girls weren’t fighting or dropping toys over the pew, I thought about my stories and my to-do list and what I would blog about this week. Then I tried to focus on what the priest was saying.

As adoration started after Mass, I remembered the first time I prayed in the presence of the Eucharist. I had been skeptical of the idea at first; what did it matter that we prayed with a piece of bread? As I came to understand the Eucharist as God Himself, I came to understand the power of adoration.

One day, shortly after moving into my first apartment in the city, I walked ten blocks to a nearby church that offered perpetual adoration. There, I spent some time contemplating the reality of God present in that room. It was a profound, moving time for me.

Now, as I knelt in the church with other young people, I wanted to recreate that experience. I wanted to feel close to God again. I wanted to know in my heart that He was present here. Yet my sense of being distracted in church continued. I wondered if the girls had gone to bed or if they missed me. I watched the other mom with her baby. I stared at the Monstrance on the altar. The distance between me and God felt a lot further than twenty pews.

That night, I learned I don’t need my children to distract me from God. I can find enough distractions in my own head. I learned that trying to meet God once a week or a few times a year at special services doesn’t create closeness.

Instead, I need to cultivate in my own heart a quiet attitude of prayerful meditation. I need to find time in my daily routine to seek God, so weekly Mass and special services become special, extra moments to connect with Him.

I need God present not just in the Eucharist at church, but in me.

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