A front-row seat at Mass gave Kate Taliaferro the opportunity to be inspired by a preschooler eager to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
Being a large family, we occupy a significant portion of the pew at church. Our parish is five minutes from our house, and even starting to load the car with 20 minutes to spare still often leaves us to sit in the front front row. I emphasize front, because I don’t mean the front most row that still has kneelers, I mean the row in from of that one. You know, the one where your 2-year-old has free access to run straight up the steps to the altar at less than a moment’s notice. The one where everyone has to try not to trip on your purse that’s overflowing with diapers and fruit pouches as they walk back to their seats after Communion.
This Sunday, per usual, we were in this pew. While I try to remain focused on participating in the song, prayerfully offering my singing in unity with those around me as we are all transformed into the Mystical Body of Christ, sometimes I get distracted.
“Oh, those are cute shoes!”
“Aw, look at that adorable baby.”
“Hey, we aren’t the only large family here, cool!”
“Looks like someone is having a hard day.”
Today, I found my attention shift to a little boy, probably about 4, and his mother. He had his arms crossed for his blessing, his mom was receiving Jesus over his curly head. He looked up at the minister and said, more than once to be sure he was well heard,
“Can I have one of those too?”
I pretty much melted on the spot. The earnest honesty. The interest and desire. I had just received the Lord, and with much less enthusiasm than this little boy. I know the Eucharist is Jesus. I believe that He is truly present and is alive within me. I know all these things, but my heart is still stony when it looks at a heart so soft and open to Jesus’ presence.
We are returning to Mass in person, which is incredible. At the start of the pandemic, I remember how I ached to receive the Eucharist, how difficult it was to be physically separated from the liturgy. I have grown in my understanding and love for the Prayer of Spiritual Communion. This is a powerful prayer. Jesus truly did come to me in those moments. But, as happens with humans, I began to get comfortable, complacent even.
Mass before the pandemic was automatic. Of course we were going, it was Sunday. I had only missed a handful of Sundays ever in my life, and those were due to hospitalization from having a baby or serious illness. It was unthinkable to miss Mass. Now, getting to Mass is work! I don’t know about you and your family, but after being out of the habit for a year it feels like moving mountains to get everyone out of the house on time and into the pew, especially the front front pew. I have not become resentful per say, but after reflecting on this little boy’s words, I know that I feel a weight I didn’t feel before about getting everyone to Mass.
I want his enthusiasm. I want his desire. My prayer this week is for Jesus to create in me a stronger desire for His presence. How has the transition from pandemic online Mass to in person been for you? What do you need to talk honestly with God about when it comes to getting to Mass in person? Will you join me in praying for a greater desire to receive Jesus, physically, in the Eucharist?
I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you so that you walk in my statutes, observe my ordinances, and keep them. You will live in the land I gave to your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:26-28)
Copyright 2021 Kate Taliaferro
Image copyright 2018 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mom of 6. She has a Masters in Religious Education and tries to find God's presence in all parts of her day, be it cooking, cleaning or just the everyday ordinary. She enjoys homeschooling, stitching crafts and finding cheerios between the couch cushions. She blogs at Daily Graces.