I was received into full communion with the Catholic Church six years ago. In my arduous journey to Rome, on the final leg of that most intense trek, I was helped by a young priest in the Diocese of Allentown–one Fr. Butera. He had grown up in a nearby parish where the following story took place.
He said what?
A young boy, just shy of three years, accompanied his mother to a vigil Mass for the Feast of the Ascension. He had been baptized about one year earlier. On this particular occasion, the boy exhibited less than perfect behavior, and, as one would expect, his mother carried him off to the vestibule for a little calming.
After a brief stay, mother and child returned to their pew. When the time came, the mother made her way toward the sanctuary to receive Holy Communion, little boy in her arms. Just as the priest was giving Communion to the mom, the toddler reached toward the chalice and uttered these words, “What…Who’s in there?”
This young boy had begun to say, “What,” but he stopped himself, gave a brief pause, and proceeded with the correct question–“Who’s in there?” Out of the mouths of babes!
In a minor dispensation from his usual decorum, the priest kindly answered the boy, “Jesus.” The Lord had given to this small child a great little gift. Years later, the boy may not remember that event or that day, but others will. All those who heard the small voice ask that small question will not soon forget how they witnessed God’s use of those who the world dismisses to put to shame those who are wise in their own eyes.
Why it matters
My reason for telling you this story is not, as some might assume, to bolster your confidence in the Real Presence of Christ–although I do hope that happens. Neither is this finally about the wisdom of God confounding men, even though that is true. No, I tell this story for a personal reason.
See, we live in a society that denigrates children, child-bearing, and parenthood generally. The devaluation of marriage was preceded by a devaluation of children, which precipitated in the divorce of children from marriage. Those men and women who marry are, whether they like it or not, choosing to be parents (lamentable circumstances aside). Their task of raising children is the most important work in the world. All other labor regards the qualities of life in this world; without child-bearing, the world does not exist.
So, be fruitful. Bring your children to Mass every Sunday and holy day, even from infancy.–This is where priests begin their formation.–And pray for every foolish soul that glares at you for bringing a noisy child to church.
Christ’s invitation has no caveats
Let the little children come to me…unless there’s a Mass being celebrated.
…unless they’re going to be distracting.
…unless they’re really little and might cry.
…by which I mean, let them in the building, but, for heaven’s sake, keep them in the other room.
Have discretion, of course, but know that you and your children have every right to come before our Savior. The sound of children at Mass is a sign of blessing, and sometimes those sounds will turn to prophecy.
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.