I’m a planner. I like to be prepared, having thought out all the possible rebuttals, or distractions. This is especially true when teaching my children a very important formative lesson. I like to think it out, double check my theology, checking my online sources for help and then come up with some great way to present, explain and sum up the whole formative teaching.
Unfortunately, as mothers, we know, life is not like this. We run out of time. One child or another will always need us when we planned to do our research, a baby will be crying when dinner is underway, or a number of things stand as an obstruction. Let’s be real, many times, the clock is simply not our friend.
Our family attended the Christmas Eve Mass at our parish. Four of our five kids were singing in various choirs, and this Mass was the designated Mass for them to attend. It’s a beautiful Mass, as is all Masses at our parish. On our very short drive to church, I happen to overhear a brief conversation between my two eldest in the van.
They were discussing the fact that the choir director had informed the two oldest that they would be not be sitting with the parents, rather, they would be sitting in the choir chairs. They also mentioned that during Consecration, they were instructed to remain sitting.
I piped up, “Wait a minute. She told you both to remain in your seats and not kneel during Consecration? That doesn’t seem right.”
Oh, no, we are almost to church, I have only about five minutes to convince them to obey me and not her, I thought. For heaven’s sake, it’s Christmas and they have been told to set aside their reverence to Christ in the Eucharist?!
Then, my daughter, informed me that the choir director would have placed their instruments underneath their choir chairs and kneeling would probably result in loud noises at the exact wrong moment.
“Oh,” I answered, “I see.” What to do. Do I push them to kneel? Amidst the other children in the choir, do I force them to kneel, be a spectacle, clang their instruments and disobey the exact director I had entrusted them to?
Common sense and right prudence won here. With only a few minutes left to instill some kind of teaching on this subject, I glanced at the blizzard outside my window, hoping the snow covered roads would give me just a few extra moments to teach something very, very important.
I decided to seize this impromptu opportunity. “Kids listen up. During Consecration we all kneel, right? Do you know why we do that?”
I better move fast, we’re almost there.
“Something happens at Consecration. Something miraculous happens at that time. We show we believe in that miracle when we kneel. We show God we love Him, we respect Him, we believe in Him, that we recognize Him in the Eucharist. That bread isn’t bread anymore. It’s Jesus. We kneel to show God we know that. If you do not kneel, how will you show God your love and belief? We don’t do it for anyone else, but for God. How will He know?”
“Kids, I understand the choir director. She’s right. You should stay sitting. If you kicked the instruments, it would make it worse. However, what else can you do to show your reverence? You should do something.”
“Anyone have some ideas? If you can’t kneel, what else could you do? Let’s come up with something before we get to church.”
It was decided the prudent movement would be a bowing of their heads at the Consecration, and a small silent prayer during that brief moment.
My husband was unusually quiet during the ride, and as he parked, I asked him loudly, if he agreed with the decision or if he had another idea. He turned around so all could hear, “Yep, I agree. It’s the right decision.”
We all popped out of the van, and before we knew it, Mass had begun. As we sung our joyous hymns for Christmas Mass, I wondered if that small chat in the car had made any impact. Would they remember to do something to make that moment special? Would they bow their heads in reverence?
Then, just as that questioning moment arrived, it was gone. The beauty of the Mass was enough for my thoughts and prayers, for a while anyway. As Consecration was upon us, I listened for the ringing of the bells, and scanned the dozen or so faces of the choir children to find my kids. At the precise moment of the ringing of the bells, I found my two. Just as if in slow motion, I saw both their necks begin to bend, their heads fall forward, and for a good moment, they held their heads in that bow.
Again, for the Blood of Christ, my eyes darted back to the choir seats, and once again, the bells filled the church, and those two heads were lowered.
I couldn’t contain my smile. My heart leapt with a knowing joy. Those brief moments in the van were enough. They KNEW, and made their small acknowledgement. I couldn’t have been a prouder mother at that moment. They found a way to obey both their mother and their choir director. Not only that, they found a way to recognize their God…..and I said my own prayer of thanksgiving:
Thank you, Holy Spirit. You gave me a moment in time to teach them something. It might have been in a blizzard, in a rush to get to Mass on time, in a full van, with a million other things on my mind….but you gave me the chance to teach them. You gave me this light. I took it, Lord. Thank you for the strength to seize the opportunity you gave me. And I’m grateful to have had it, to have seen it, to have moved with you. It was a privilege and an honor this Christmas to have allowed you to work through me.
You know, we’d like to have advance notice that the Holy Spirit will be calling on us to act. We'd like to know that He’ll be giving us only about three minutes to move fast, to have prudence, to know justice, to be ready. It doesn’t always work like that, actually I’ve never seen the Holy Spirit work like that. He truly is like that moving wind, that will breeze right past you if you let it. Jump on board! Be sensitive to His workings, and seize those moments, for as quickly as they are here, they are gone. He depends on us to be ready, alert, waiting. Don’t be afraid to work with Him, He loves our efforts, however small, however difficult, He loves us moving with Him. And this Christmas, I have been humbled in this joyous task.
Copyright 2011 Sahmatwork
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