Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How to Have an Apostolate...When You Have Babies

So say you are a Catholic mom with a baby (or three) and you are starting to get a little antsy about getting involved with your faith in a "bigger than church on Sunday way." What can you do?

I like to think there are really four big levels to having an apostolate as a Catholic:

1. Within your own home/family
2. Within your parish for your parish
3. Within your parish for non-parishioners
4. Within the larger world for everybody

You can "have an apostolate" within one, two, or all four of these categories. So what do these things look like? What would you actually do?

1. Within your own home/family

I think of this one as what you do to raise good Catholic kids, have a healthy domestic church, and invite others into that domestic church.

This includes: inviting a priest over for dinner, teaching your kids how to pray, and hosting celebrations for special days like a Good Friday Fish Fry and an Epiphany Three Kings Party.

We made 3 crowns for each of the 3 kings. They were crowned as the three slices of orange hidden in the kings cake were found!

This one has the benefit of you don't have to pack up the babies to go anywhere! You can set them up with some fun things to do and get them involved in the celebrations, then whip them into bath and bed when they get tired.

2. Within your parish for your parish

This includes all of the ministries that are needed for mass (lectors, choir, altar society, ushers, etc.)

Getting ready to sing for a wedding about 8 months pregnant.

I sing in my parish choir...with the baby on me. This will not work for every baby! I joined when I was about seven months pregnant, had the baby one Sunday, and decided if I had to stand most of mass anyway I might as well be standing with the choir.

Typically, she plays on the floor through rehearsal, I put her in the ergo right before mass starts, and hopefully she falls asleep during the gathering song.  She tended to sleep right through to the end of the consecration, and was pretty happy to look around at everyone until the closing song.

She spends a lot of the time looking like this. She likes to peek around the piano at the priests too.
She's almost a year old now, so the time that works may be coming to an end. Our plan right now is to go to the earlier mass as a family then I stay on to sing in the next mass. I'll let you know if that works.

There are ways to be involved in this area with babies, but you might just have to get a little creative!

3. Within your parish for non-parishioners

This is volunteering with dinners for the poor and homeless, holiday ministries for the poor, making rosaries for prisons, and anything else hosted at the parish but not primarily meant for parishioners.

Our first batch of rosaries! They were sent to the Sisters of the 11th Hour in San Diego.
This one can be really flexible with babies! It's a physical place that you, and the babies, are familiar with and you can potentially store things there that will make this a lot easier.

I have done dinner help by washing dishes with a baby strapped to my back. I've made rosaries by sticking the baby in a laundry hamper with some toys and books.
Even toddlers can really get behind the "helping someone who needs it" idea. They are "someone who needs help" very frequently, they know exactly what that kind of need feels like.

4. Within the larger world for everybody

This is doing something that may or may not be affiliated with the church at all. This is sorting clothes at a crisis pregnancy center, giving blood, volunteering at the local food bank,

This is one where spouse help is probably needed. A lot of these places will not allow you to also bring the baby (except for perhaps the crisis pregnancy one), but they are often able to be done on the weekend or evenings.

I have had a standing "blood date" with Therese's godfather to go give blood one weekday evening as we are eligible. Other people get the blood they need, and I get to see a friend! Win-win!

Keep an eye out for groups from the parish who are going to volunteer together. I'm a big fan of working as a group.

If there is something you have been feeling called to do, there will be a way to do it. It might not be exactly in the way you pictured it, but ultimately, you are giving what you can from where you are.

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