Bless the Children

Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.- Jesus

I love this stained glass window at the back of the children's room at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Centennial.

I love this stained glass window at the back of the children’s room at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Centennial.

Sunday’s readings were all about marriage and family, featuring the always-popular story of Adam and Eve. You know, where Eve was made from the rib of Adam. Whatevah!

But since yesterday’s readings all dealt with family, it was no surprise that the gospel reading was Mark’s story about Jesus’ outlook on divorce. Wow, man. That one always makes me squirm. That’s because I’m divorced. Sure, my marriage was annulled by the Catholic church. As such, Bill and I were able to be married in a Catholic ceremony and are able to fully practice our faith. But I’m really just like my friends who are divorced. At the end of the day, the annulment is just a piece of paper. Or so I believe.

I don’t have any specific spiritual enlightenment about divorce. In fact, I’m only telling you this so that you know that Denial is not just a river in Egypt. As the deacon read the gospel, I just put my hands over my ears and said, “La, la, la,” figuratively speaking. I did, however, hear the part in our priest’s homily where he said not to judge those who are divorced and to love all of our brothers and sisters, just as our pope has recently preached.

But I happily listened to the final paragraph of yesterday’s gospel where Mark tells us that people were bringing their children to Jesus, and his disciples tried to prevent the kids from seeing him. Says Mark: When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Recently I was babysitting the cousins, and for various reasons, they were getting put maggie steak n shaketo bed considerably later than usual. Because of this, I quietly elected to tuck them in without a book or prayers, thinking they would then be asleep sooner. I turned off the light and began closing the door. Suddenly, Maggie Faith says to me, “Nana, we didn’t say our prayers.” Well then.

So I went over to her bed and she closed her eyes and folded her hands and said (almost as quickly as those ads you hear on the radio with the disclosures that the product they are advertising doesn’t actually work), “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, angels watch me through the night and wake me with the morning light. God bless, Mommy, Daddy, Addie, Alastair, Dagny, Grandma, Busia, Nana, and Papa. Help me have a good day tomorrow and let me have the best dreams ever. Amen.

So there.

But I thought about Magnolia while contemplating yesterday’s gospel. The simple faith of children. That’s what we all should have. Why do we make it so hard?

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Healing Power of Love

Girl Cousins

Amazing granddaughters!

Once in a while, something will just stop me in my tracks. Even if I’m sitting down, it will feel like I’ve been knocked over. That happened to me a couple of weeks ago at Sunday Mass. Bill and I were sitting in the row second from the front. A few minutes before Mass began, a family of five came and sat in front of us. The family included a thirty-something mom and dad, and three children – a boy of about 5, a girl of about 2 or 3, and a baby girl of about 6 or 7 months. Mom and Dad ran quite a tight ship. They required the boy to genuflect and kneel, and didn’t let the older girl get away with much giggling or naughtiness. Pay attention to the priest was the message they seem to be getting from Mom and Dad.

It didn’t take long before I realized that the baby girl, dressed to the nines in pink ruffles and wearing the large pink bow so fashionable among the baby set these days, had Down Syndrome. Being the grandmother of nine perfect grandchildren, I did two things. I thanked God for those perfect grandchildren, and then quickly followed up with a prayer for the family sitting in front of me.

But for the rest of Mass, I couldn’t stop thinking about that family. Here’s what struck me: Either the woman had the prenatal test, learned that the child she was carrying had Down Syndrome, and she and her husband chose to have the baby despite this condition; or the parents elected to not even have the test, knowing that they would have the baby no matter what. Either premise gave me great pause.

During my own pregnancy, and then during the pregnancy of each of my daughters-in-law, I held my breath until such time as the test came back with a positive result. I have never let myself think much about what choices I would make or support should the situation be different. What I do know, however, is that those two parents who sat in front of me at Mass were remarkable and brave and undoubtedly have great faith in God.

That was several weeks ago, but I remembered that family Sunday during the readings at Mass. All were about God’s power of healing.

While listening to the readings – Isaiah’s prophecy of a savior who would clear the ears of the deaf and make the tongues of the mute sing, and Mark’s gospel in which Jesus fulfills that prophecy by healing the blind and mute – I reminded myself that none of us will likely have the opportunity to give a deaf person or a blind person sound or sight. But the words of St. James in the second reading in which he says Show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ reminded me what priest said at the beginning of his homily. We are all, said Fr. Israel, “God’s humble instruments of healing.”

In other words, it matters not one whit to God if we are rich or poor, sick or healthy, black or white, man or woman. And it shouldn’t matter to us either. Those parents love their little girl just as much as they love their two older children. Healing doesn’t have to be something showy and awe-inspiring, like making a blind man see. Healing can be done quietly by the Holy Spirit, and it’s every bit as important.Those parents and their children heal each other every day of the week.

We are all blessed with the grace of God, and healed by his love.

Living Bread

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. – John 6:35

searchFor the past few weeks, the Catholic church took a break from the allegedly written-on-a-deadline Gospel of St. Mark to hear St. John’s discourse on the bread of life. Our gospel reading concluded at yesterday’s Mass, and I must admit the final part of that section of John’s gospel gives me a great deal of peace.

I’m going out on a limb with today’s blog post because it is not my goal to alienate any of my readers. I respect all of the different ways that people worship God. Still, Catholic Christians are very often belittled by other Christian faiths for our beliefs, and it seems like yesterday’s reading from John’s gospel provides some background on one of our most important teachings.

In his homily our pastor pointed out that Jesus tells his friends “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst…..Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

In yesterday’s conclusion of the discourse on the bread of life, Jesus asks the people, “Does this shock you? The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

And it was true, because at that point a number of his followers stormed off in disgust. And, as our pastor pointed out, Jesus did nothing to try and dissuade them from leaving. He clearly did not say anything like, “Come back friends. I am not speaking literally. Everything I’ve just said is symbolic.” Instead, he let them leave. He turned to his closest friends and asked them, “Do you also want to leave?” They assured him that they were there until the bitter end because, as Peter said, “You have the words of eternal life.”

As Mylee would say, “Ta da!”

It doesn’t shock me that people have trouble believing that the bread and wine in which we partake every Sunday at Mass is the living body and blood of Christ. That concept is beyond our understanding. In fact, many Catholics, including those partaking in Holy Communion each Sunday, struggle with this idea. What really is surprising when you think about it is that even people like me who believe in our church’s teaching on transubstantiation take it so for granted. If my feeble little brain could really understand this mystery that our church teaches, at each Mass when the priest holds up the host and the wine, I should literally be falling to a prone position as the living God is raised before me. Instead, I pay attention as the priest blesses the bread and wine, and then my mind might wander to what time the Broncos are playing.

No matter what you believe about Holy Communion, it is comforting to know that God cares for us as he did the Israelites in the desert when he fed them with manna.

As an aside, yesterday’s conclusion to St. John’s bread of life discourse was accompanied by that ever-popular letter of St. Paul in which he tells women to submit to their husbands. For the most part, homilists avoid that one like the plague. Oh Paul. The good news is that it was offset by the beautiful words from the Old Testament Book of Joshua in which Joshua tells the Israelites, “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve……As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

So, as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord. Amen. Alleluia.