“I’ll explain after Mass, son,” I whispered back to him. “Look around and see what else you notice.”
Then, as my son spent a few minutes examining our sacred surroundings, I spent a moment with eyes lifted towards the beautiful stain glass window above our church’s altar, which depicts Jesus on the cross with Mary and others at his feet. As literal light illuminated that window, a more figurative glow grew within me.
First, I thought about all the details within our church that my children have helped me to notice and how much I have enjoyed discovering the significance of each alongside them. The different colors of the priests’ garments… The little red cross on the corporal cross… The red sanctuary lamp that lets us know Jesus is with us…
For some reason, despite having been raised Catholic, and even having taught in a Catholic school, I missed learning about much of the Tradition of our faith and the symbolism woven into it. Now, I find myself enriched by these things each time my children notice something at Mass and ask me about it. Whether I know the answer and just feel blessed to be able to explain it to them in words that they can understand, or whether I have to say, “Let’s find out about that together,” I recognize the beauty of Catholic traditions.
Likewise, I feel privileged to be chosen to guide my children in their faith.
As I picture my parish’s stained glass image of Mary at the foot of Jesus’ cross, I think about how Jesus was a gift to his mother as well as a gift to all of us. I wonder what would have happened if Our Blessed Mother had not accepted her gift and embraced all the responsibility that holding onto – and letting go of – her son meant. I marvel at Mary’s strength. I am humbled by her faith. I am inspired by her willingness to follow her call wherever it took her – continuing to trust the Lord even through ominously dark hours. I am grateful that she stewarded her child in his younger years, readying him to follow his call as an adult, and then did not interfere as he did so.
I pray that I am able to do similarly. What a privilege – and what a responsibility – it is to be gifted with each of my children. What a journey it has already been in the short years I have been blessed with them. What celebration and challenges may lay ahead… By God’s grace, I will navigate all of these and will be able to continually guide my children to share their personal gifts with the world.
Two gifts my son has, I know, are an inquisitive mind and an eye for detail. Hence, one job I have is to embrace these gifts and to help my son build upon them. For now, part of that means being patient on Sundays. Allowing my eldest to crane his neck and to whisper questions. Accepting that when he fails to pray and participate as those around him do, he is still experiencing something good – something of God. Remaining confident that through his thoughts and senses, he is learning about our faith in a way I cannot recall doing until adulthood – by looking at the concrete and, then, asking about its meaning.
The flowers – they were because it was Laetare Sunday. A joyful reminder of the Easter rejoicing that we will all soon partake in.
What details do your children notice during Mass? How do you share the rich heritage of our faith – including its traditions and symbolism, with your younger children? Do you have other tips, resource or insights to share about your call to training our youngest parishioners? Please share in a comment or link up below!