“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori
I love taking my kids to church. I used to be anxious about disruptions, but I got over that a long time ago. As it turns out, I only get complaints from fellow parishioners when I don’t bring them. My children also remind me from time to time that they are more spiritual than I am.
Jacob, my 20-month-old, recently gave me one such reminder. As the congregation knelt for the Eucharistic prayer, he started pointing and saying, “Cah.” I started shushing him, and whispered, “Yes, that’s Father John up there.” The lad was persistent, saying, “Cah!” just a little bit louder, with that tinge of frustration that is typical of a toddler who is not being understood.
Around the moment when Father John was elevating the host, it hit me. Jacob was pointing to the crucifix. “Cah” was “cross.” I gave him the proper acknowledgement, and he was content.
There is a cross bearing Jesus of the Resurrection hanging on the wall above Jacob’s crib. Whenever he wakes up in the morning or after a nap, it is part of his routine to point to and identify the cross. No mystery there; he saw something familiar.
But what struck me was the timing. At the moment of that great mystery of transubstantiation, this little boy who has yet to put his fist sentence together was drawn to the source of that mystery. There was no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit was up to something.
And while Jacob was experiencing the Spirit, I was too busy thinking. I was thinking about my son distracting people during the consecration. I was thinking about my own desire to experience the presence of God at that sacred moment. I was thinking like an adult.
Jacob, on the other hand, was being a kid. And as Jesus said in Saturday’s Gospel reading, that should be our goal, “for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:14).”
May we learn to accept the gift of faith as our children do. And may our children not lose that gift as they turn into adults.