Are Your Children Open to the Miraculous or do You Unwittingly Stifle Their Faith?
Are Your Children Open to the Miraculous
or do You Unwittingly Stifle Their Faith?
Our Lady of Fatima (Week 2 of 8)
What interested Jacinta most was the story of the Passion of Christ, which Lucia, with the native talent that shows sporadically in her four memoirs, must have made graphic enough. Jesus praying alone in the Garden while His friends slept and His enemies plotted; Jesus being scourged while His Mother looked on, weeping; Jesus staggering under the weight of it; Jesus dying in thirst and agony, and for our sins, not His — all this made a profound impression on the generous hearts of both the Marto children, but especially on that of the little girl. “Poor little Lord!” she would say. “Poor, poor Our Lord! I am never going to commit another sin, if it makes you suffer so much!” — Our Lady of Fatima (Chapter 2, Paragraph 11)
The above story is relayed from the period before the miracles of Fatima took place. What a beautiful image to behold. When reading the above passage, it struck me that these children were well-prepared for the intimate glance they were permitted into the miraculous. Even at a young age, they shared a great love for Our Lord and according to other passages, sang many songs to Our Lady, and prayed the Rosary often.
No doubt Our Lady honored the love of these precious souls with her presence. She knew they were predisposed toward any graces with which she wished to bless them. And she trusted that they would desire union with Christ above all things.
Who among us is teaching our children to love as these children loved? To open their hearts to receive the miraculous? Yes, this story took place in a different time. Yes, these children were most likely surrounded by piety and religious conviction. Nonetheless, their love was palpable, and certainly worth emulation by children of all generations.
Sadly, in my own case, I don’t know that I’ve served to open the hearts of my children. Instead, I sometimes wonder if my preoccupation with rules and protocol has served as an obstacle to their faith. While I desire nothing more for them than union with God, I’m not sure how well I have facilitated that union. The truth is, rules are much easier to explain and to manage than are intimate moments with the miraculous.
A case in point occurred when our oldest son was preparing to receive the Blessed Sacrament. He was completely in awe of the Eucharist, and couldn’t wait to receive. Just weeks before the big day, our family was forced to sit in the very first pew at Mass. Of course, this added much insult to the self-inflicted injury of showing up after the Entrance Procession. At the time we had four children ages seven and under, and my husband and I were very aware of the potential spectacle of sitting in the front of Church – in that pew with no protection to help us corral our kids; no wall of privacy to limit exposure. Within seconds of receiving Holy Communion, the two of us had expended any grace we received in the Sacrament. We struggled to hold our younger kids as close as possible so as not to disturb the Communion line, which stood the length of our pew, directly in front of our family. As I wrestled with the toddler and my husband held the baby, I glanced over at my seven-year-old and could not believe my eyes. A man was standing directly in front of him, hands extended toward the Eucharistic Minister to receive a Consecrated Host. My son was slouching down in his pew and clearly stretching his foot toward the man. Just as the man placed the Host in his mouth, my son’s foot descended toward the man’s toes, in a clear effort to step on his foot. I was horrified. With eyes as big as saucers and a hand that was quicker than quick, I reached over and grabbed his knee, giving him a look that must have startled him from his intended action because he immediately sat straight up and didn’t move a muscle for the rest of Mass.
As we left the Church, I took my son aside to give him a little piece of my mind. Of course, I was coming from the perspective that of all kids, the seven-year-old should have known how to behave in Mass, and shame on him for distracting that poor man in the midst of such a special moment. After quietly listening to my lecture, my son spoke up. And after hearing what he had to say, I could have crawled right into the nearest hole.
He looked up at me, so innocent and confused, and said quietly,
“I just wanted to touch that man right when Jesus entered his body, so that He could enter mine too.”
That son is now 18. He has never again demonstrated the same profound awe and absolute faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord that he so openly expressed that morning. If only I could go back in time. That man would have gotten over my son’s little foot pressing against his own. And – perhaps more honestly – I would have gotten over the embarrassment. But my son? He learned that rules outweigh the miraculous. And that’s not something a child so easily “gets over.”
1. These first chapters present a picture of the world of Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco. What struck you most about it?
2. Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!
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