Last Saturday night, I realized that I had been remiss in planning a way to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation, in a way that would be accessible to Luke and Nina (since, to be honest, Mass alone does very little for them at this point, but provide a way for them to push parental buttons!) With no related picture book at hand, no Liturgical Tea menu ingredients in the cupboards and no real idea about how to recognize the occasion since doing such things was beyond the scope of my own 70’s and 80’s Catholic upbringing, I thought, simplicity and spontaneity are best. So, after reading bedtime stories, I asked Luke and Nina if they remembered what day the following day would be. “Sunday.” And what do we do on Sundays? “Go to church.” And do you know tomorrow is a very special day at church? “The celebration!” (Luke has been looking forward to a church family day that is coming up in honor of our parish’s 125th anniversary.) No, that is next week. This week we are going to honor someone. “Jesus?” No, Jesus’ Mommy. “Mary?” Yes. Let me tell you a story about Mary…
At that point, I began telling the kids a brief story about Mary from when the angel Gabriel came to tell her she was to have Baby Jesus to when she was assumed into Heaven. To keep the kids engaged, I paused at the parts they already knew from Christmas and Easter time studies so they could co-tell the story. And, to help with he “joyful obedience” theme I have been trying to stress in our home, I continually emphasized how Mary said, “Yes!”
By the time I got to Mary being assumed into Heaven, Luke was excited and said that since Sunday was to be a celebration, we should make something. He suggested a cake “to share with everyone there (at church).” Pleased with his wish to be so generous, but knowing his idea was not one I was ready to follow through on this year, I gently said, “Luke, what a great thought. I think everyone would like some cake. But, Mommy is alone with you all this weekend. I don’t think I can help you make enough cake for everyone, while taking care of you, Nina and Jack, and getting us all ready for church.” Luke accepted this and began to wonder what else we might offer. Nina piped up with an idea: We could bring a “juice box to give Mary at the church.” (Juice boxes are a treat in our home.) This was sweet, I thought, and doable, but by morning, both Nina and Like had forgotten the idea.
Instead, during our picnic breakfast, as I told Luke, Nina and Jack the Assumption story once again, Luke and Nina decided they wanted to act it out. “I can be Mary,” Nina offered. “And, Jack is young Jesus and I am old Jesus,” Luke leapt aboard. “And who can be the apostles? And the…” and so the planning began.
As things unfolded, the planning was a lot more promising than the play ended up being. The kids decided to skip the beginning and middle of story of Mary, choosing to go straight to the Assumption instead. (So much for baby Jack’s role in the drama!)
In need of a tomb, the kids re-named a dinosaur cave of bricks and sticks that they had built a few days earlier “Mary’s tomb”. Nina stood in this and Luke, as Jesus, came from the heavens (the light post in our yard) to carry her to Heaven, body and soul. But, being human, and not the real Jesus, he tripped Nina, who fell and began to cry. So, the dramatic play ended and the three-year-old drama began…
Drama aside, with just a few story tellings and one somewhat failed enactment of the Assumption, Luke and Nina understood enough to create their Assumption Art. Then, when Daddy got home from drill later that evening, Nina eagerly brought him to the hallway to see their artwork. Luke followed, happily explaining the story behind it.
Simple? Perhaps. Inspired? Indeed! Even though my knowledge and preparation for the Assumption was limited, my kiddoes seemed to gain from our experiences. All things are possible with God!