As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, September 20, 2014

If you let your children touch Jesus

A friend recently asked me if I had any tips for bringing very young children to Mass.  Immediately it brought me back to the days when all of my children were little (when my oldest was four, and I had a two-year-old and a baby at the same) and I remembered just how difficult that was.  I thought of all the things that kept me going in those years, when Mass was such a trial for me, my children, and anyone sitting around me.  I worried that I left more sinful and flustered than when I came.  I worried my kids had no clue what a gift the Mass was, and that my lack of patience was not teaching them.  I worried we were ruining the Mass for everyone around us.  But always, I knew Jesus was there.  And for me, that trumped everything.  I knew this was good, and that even if I couldn't see it, there were so many graces we were gaining, for us and our children, every time we came here.  This is the only place we can bring our children to see Jesus in the flesh.  That was the only thing that got us through those difficult years.  And so, we persist.

A mormon blogger that I follow (check her out at, shared one time a saying they have in their faith, "If you let the children touch the temple, the temple will touch them."  So whenever they travel anywhere new, they always seek out the local temple and take their children to touch it.  I thought it was such a beautiful reflection on the sanctity of a place of worship, and how it really can have an effect on our children's faith - but only if we bring them there.  When I was trying to come up with tips and advice of things that have worked for us in the past, I just kept coming back to this saying, and realizing it's the same for us.  If we let our children touch Jesus, Jesus will touch them.

When I wrote the first post about bringing my kids to Mass, it had been a good Mass.  School has started, and our schedule this year allows many more opportunities to attend daily Mass than it has in the past. In our first week we experienced such grace with this.  When I went with the children by myself, they were great.  When Jeff and I took them together for Sunday Mass, they were equally great.  It was a beautiful time, one that had me looking back on those crazy first few years with gratitude for the ways we've grown since then.

And yet, this week we've had a major step backwards.  Three weekly masses, three disasters.  The kids, little and big, were all extremely poorly behaved every time.  I was so much at the end of my rope and testy.  Funny how God does that, isn't it?  While you're thinking how grateful you are that you are not in those crazy days you once were, and are trying to muster up tips as to why things are so much better now than they were then.  That's when God shows you that it's really not about you, or the things you're doing.  Things can unravel even for the best of us, and when that happens one thing remains the same - Jesus.

Yesterday, at the third Mass in three days, I was feeling worn out.  By the time we went to communion, I was just trying desperately to hang onto my last shred of dignity and to be cordial with the children.  On our way back to our pew we had to loop around the back of the church to get back to our seat. The rest of my kids were all sitting down already, and I just had my two little ones.  As I walked past the holy water font, the baby on my hip and the toddler whose hand I was holding (both of whom had been holy terrors throughout the entire Mass) reached into the water.  And immediately I remembered the saying, "If you let your children touch Jesus, Jesus will touch them."  All of a sudden the memories of the last three days came back - memories of my children singing the hymns, and saying the Mass parts (even the littlest ones).  Memories of praise and worship at a healing Mass, and hearing them belt out those songs with their whole hearts.  Memories of benediction following one of those Masses, when one of my children went to the front of the church to kneel before Jesus in the blessed sacrament, and looking over to see two of my other older children kneeling in quiet prayer (I noticed because I had never seen them do that before).  Memories of kneeling during the consecration, and telling my children (as a wise friend of mine used to tell her little children) to "watch the miracle" at the moment of consecration.  It IS a miracle, and kids do get it.  For all of the ways we fall short, God is there - and that makes up for everything we lack.

As parents, we struggle with how to make faith real for our children.  Not just something that they do, but something that is their own. We teach them, we guide them, all the while knowing that's not enough.  How do we inspire conversion?  How do we get them from a place of knowing, to a place of living? By bringing them to Jesus, and letting Him touch them.  This is why it's worth it, no matter how hard it is.

Dear Jesus, when we're at Mass and we feel like everything is falling apart, help us always to remember the ways you touch us when we're there.  It is not by our own efforts that our children will know You, but only by a personal encounter between You and them.  If it takes everything, every last shred of our sanity just to know You are there, just to give our children an opportunity to touch You, then that's a small price to pay.  Help us to trust that if we show up, You will do the rest - and that You have everything under control even when we don't.

1 comment :

  1. What a beautiful post, Natasha! I am happy to have found your blog as I too have 6 kids. I can relate to the feeling of gaining confidence only to be humbled very shortly after the pride has set in. I look forward to the day I can attend more daily Masses with the kids. You have a beautiful family!