Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A 4 year old and the Eucharist

"Misguided mom" wrote: “My 4 year old has been going to mass since she was little, but I guess she's just really started to listen. Last week she didn't want to walk up to the altar with me when I went up for communion. She said she was scared. Well, people were in the pew waiting to go up, so I didn't have time to ask why just then. I asked my 6 yr old to sit there with her when I went up. Later, I asked here why she was scared. She told me that she didn't want to see Jesus' "dead" body and blood.

In listening to my daughter's fears, it reminded me of many of my own apprehensions about my faith- not knowing enough about Catholicism, not being as devout as someone else (and having them find out), being uncomfortable in participating in many of the beautiful offerings of the church like confession and adoration, feeling out of my element, etc. In that moment, I realized that I haven't been living my faith very purposefully. I go to mass, sing the hymns, go up for communion and stay around after mass to say hello to the priests and parishioners, but I do little more to acknowledge the enormity of what I have through the Eucharist. I do understand that it is probably normal for a younger child to have misconceptions about parts of the mass, so I'm not beating myself up about that, but it was a sign to me that I could do so much more within my family to teach my kids in both word and action about how much Jesus means to me in my life and how grateful I am in the abundance of his love.”


This is one of my favorite stories of the past year at St. Andrew’s. I don’t mean to belittle “misguided mom’s” apprehensions, but it really is amazing to hear that the Real Presence has registered with a 4 year old! Ok, maybe the child’s theology needs to be squared away just a bit – the Eucharist is the RISEN Body of Christ – but she gets it: The Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ! I think we should change the mother’s nickname from “misguided mom” to…say…ummm… Mother of the Year!? Whatever you’re doing in your home, Mom, please keep it up!

I told this story last Saturday when I celebrated an instructional Mass for the second graders who will be making their first Holy Communion this Saturday. It was a real Mass, but I stopped a few times to explain the parts of the Mass, and why we do and say certain things. During my homily, I retold this story, and praised the faith of this precious child. I then asked the kids what four words are the whole reason we believe that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. I even offered my car for any of them who knew the answer! All of a sudden, one little girl raised her hand, and my heart sank. She said, “this is my body”. After promising her my car keys (sort of) and envisioning long walks around Silver Spring, I congratulated her for her inspiring and correct answer.

The reason why I make such a big deal about people (especially kids) getting it about the Eucharist is because the Eucharist is a big deal! It’s huge!! I truly believe that if these kids really have made some kind of an identification with the Eucharist– which the 4 year old went out of her way to show – then they will be set for life, and for all eternity! They get it that Christ is real, and that he is very close to them in the Eucharist. They have begun a relationship with him, one that it will be very hard to walk away from later in life. And, Christ promises that if they (and anyone else) stay close to him in the Eucharist, they will have eternal life (see Jn 6:54).

9 Comments:

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Kat said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fructu non folis arborem aestima

 
At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

Why is May considered the month of Mary?

 
At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Kat said...

hmm... someone is trying to take my unofficial title of resident latin nerd. . .

Hmm... dictionary is at home... So just a guess...

Judge a tree by its fruits not its leaves? ? ?

I really need to brush up on my Latin its a bit rusty.

 
At 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The month of May, with its profusion of blooms was adopted by the Church in the eighteenth century as a celebration of the flowering of Mary's maidenly spirituality…With its origins in Isaiah's prophecy of the Virgin birth of the Messiah under the figure of the Blossoming Rod or Root of Jesse, the flower symbolism of Mary was extended by the Church Fathers, and in the liturgy, by applying to her the flower figures of the Sapiential Books-Canticles, Wisdom, Proverbs and Sirach

In the medieval period, the rose was adopted as the flower symbol of the Virgin Birth, as expressed in Dante's phrase, 'The Rose wherein the Divine Word was made flesh,' and depicted in the central rose windows of the great gothic cathedrals-from which came the Christmas carol, 'Lo, How a Rose 'ere Blooming.' Also, in the medieval period, when monasteries were the centers of horticultural and agricultural knowledge, and with the spread of the Fransiscan love of nature, the actual flowers themselves, of the fields, waysides and gardens, came to be seen as symbols of Mary…

 
At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FG,

I love it when you tell stories like this.

 
At 6:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in school yesterday when I saw my child's class heading to morning Mass. I hadn't planned on going then, but I thought- why not-I can clear 30 minutes to attend Mass with the kids. Another parent from the class "happened" to be there too, and she commented that it would be nice if the classes' worship schedule were known for those who might like to attend a daily Mass with their kids. I know they announce the full school Masses, which are always really nice, and I'm appreciative of that. One more opportunity for our kids to see parents interested in making the time to worship with them can only further drive home the point that worshipping together is important. Later in the day, one of my child's friends asked me why I would go to Mass if I didn't "have" to, and I was grateful for the opportunity to answer. Who knows- maybe none would show, but if only a few do- it's a great msg. Just a thought.

 
At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm kind of embarrassed to say that my child witnessed this exchange, but I had a verbal confrontation with an irate family member in front of my eldest daughter. Since my child was present, and I had no power to control this other person's behavior, and I wasn't in a place to just walk away, I deided to just let this person vent and hope they'd soon be through. It was quite a tirade which, fortunately containing no damning topics, and when she was done, I said nothing- which angered her more. Finally, she asked if I had anything to say, and I answered (and it took quite a measure of self-control), "I'm going to pray for you." My daughter's eyes were huge, and she later asked me why I didn't say some back to this person when she was yelling at me. I explained that I didn't really think this person wanted to hear my point of view, and I didn't want to say things that would only create a bigger arguement. My daughter asked why I would ever pray for someone who, she thought, obviously didn't think about praying for me. I explained that I can only control my own thoughts and actions, and when I don't like the way someone else's are affecting me, I pray for them to receive what they need so we all have peace.

Recently, my daughter and son got into an arguement, which really not the norm for them. Some "issues" were expressed, points of view exchanged, and when my son did not like the points his sister expressed, he got angry and verbal (I tend to stay out of the arguements, as I really think, most of the time, they can work things out on their own). I watched my daughter stand tall, saying nothing, as she waited for him to finish. My son got angrier at the lack of rebuttal and said, "And what are you gonna do about it?" My daughter answered, "I'm going to pray for you." And that was the end of the arguement, for both of them.

I honestly think I learn more from seeing what I teach my children actually show up in their behavior more than any other way. It helps me know I'm on a good path- atleast some of the time.

 
At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fr.-
You seem to get lots of hits when you talk chastity and forgivness. I guess that's a good thing. Rock on!

 

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