Twice in the past two days I have heard this line from the Gospel of John echoed.
The first was at morning Mass yesterday, when Father observed that in the Gospel, Jesus’ reply to the person who said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you…” was not a harsh rejection of His Mother but instead a big compliment to her: “The one who does the will of my Father is my brother, my sister, my mother.” Father called to mind the Miracle at Cana when Mary directed the servants at the wedding to “Do whatever He tells you.” She is the one we look to for guidance as we try to do just that.
The second time was at today’s Mass, for the Feast of the Transfiguration. The voice of God is heard: “This is my beloved Son–listen to Him.”
Sarah evidently had a rough time at church with her little one this weekend. And I seriously sympathize with her, because not too long ago, that was me, with Little Brother. I tried to take him to Daily Mass. I made him a keychain set of holy cards to look at. I pointed out the portraits of the saints in the stained-glass windows. I let him dip his fingers in the holy water font, and helped him bless himself. And inevitably we found ourselves in the vestibule of the church, where he could walk around without disturbing the people who were generally encouraging to me and asking me to keep bringing him to church.
Eventually Little Brother started feeling even more at home in church. By the age of three, he’d join the procession out of church after Sunday Mass, trotting along after the altar servers. They let him carry the finger towels from the table to the sacristy and put them in the basket to be laundered later. He learned how to bow when he passed the Tabernacle. All this was so sweet, and he was so good. I thought I could try again to take him to Daily Mass. And one week Big Brother was an altar server and he missed the bus, so we were right there. We sat in the front. As Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. HUGE!”
As everyone joined the communion procession, Little Brother got away from me. He zipped past the surprised priest and joined Big Brother in kneeling near the altar. Refusing to go back to me, he did agree to sit in one of the servers’ chairs until Mass was over, and I had to go up and get him, and he bellowed.
Father loved it. But then again, Little Brother thinks Father is Jesus.
He sings “Alleluia,” loudly and off-key. He puts our envelope in the collection basket and high-fives Daddy afterward. He responds “Amen” or “And also with you” at the right times, if a second later than everyone else. He marches to Communion with his little hands folded and hopes for a blessing–which is a big improvement over the time he tried to grab a Host out of Father’s hands when he was still small enough to agree to be carried to Communion! (Father, fortunately, has quick reflexes).
It certainly can be difficult to bring a little one to church. But soon, Sarah, your little one will be out of that toddler stage. She’ll be holding a hymnal upside-down and trying to sing along. She’ll be processing in a little white dress for her First Holy Communion. Maybe she’ll be in the choir, and (like Middle Sister) preparing for her first time as cantor for the Responsorial Psalm. And all of this will happen because YOU are doing “what He tells you”–you are bringing your little one to church.
Jesus didn’t say, “Leave your children home until they’re big enough to understand, behave properly and sit still for an hour.” He said, “Let the children come to me.”
Do what He tells you. And pray a Hail Mary when it gets rough, because I’m sure she’s been there. And you know she wants you to do what He tells you.