This Sunday, I found myself in the heartbreaking situation of bringing someone to Mass who wanted to receive communion and couldn't. Only this time, it wasn't a strayed adult living in sin, but an innocent 7 year old boy who has never been baptized. He asked to join us at Mass though his parents, our house guests, were not going, and sat dutifully at his grandmother's side, quiet as a cricket though he could see very little in the packed church besides the traditional architecture of the 100 year old building and the lifelike Stations of the Cross.
Maybe it was the solemn beauty of the Mass which held his attention. I can remember similar scenes from my childhood, seeing nothing but the backs of well-dressed people, yet the the traditional smells and bells of the Mass told me that this is a holy place. When the crowd parted for communion, I could spy the fresco of St Joseph and the child Jesus at the carpenter's bench next to the altar. It spoke volumes about fatherly love. The organ playing the hymns which shook the floor with awesome tremors told me that God was mighty. I loved going to Mass in such a beautiful church, and moved to this parish far from our home so that my daughters could experience the same reverence for the unspeakable power of the mystery of the Body and Blood of Jesus on the altar.
Perhaps he felt this love of God in the Mass, and that is why the little guy changed his mind on the communion line behind my daughter, and moved his arms from the crossed "I do not receive, just bless me"position we taught him, to the folded hands of a communicant. My sister-in-law pointed this out to me, and I make a beeline to join him in line and explain to Father that we only wanted a blessing for him.
It broke my heart to do that, this little boy is not at fault; it was his grandparents who failed to baptize his mother, who had no desire to give him any instruction in the faith. It is a sad legacy which is played out more and more in our Church. This young child's father has abandoned him and his mother is living with a boyfriend who gave her another son. No one in his home attends Mass, though his little brother was baptized last January, his parents expressed no interest in taking him to classes for Baptism. I watched as he looked on as his brother's Baptism with more than a little envy. It broke my heart.
After Mass, I brought the little boy up to the statue of St Joseph and the Child Jesus after Mass, and reminded him that he and Jesus both had foster fathers named Joseph, and he smiled. I joined him in prayer for his mother to sign him up for catechism classes. We lit a candle together, and he left the church happy for a few minutes in the playground as a reward for good behavior.
I hope that his mother will take my suggestion to heart and sign him up for catechism classes. I know that the example of this innocent child seeking the grace of God could to bring his whole family into a state of grace. This will be on my list of prayer intentions.
Please join me as we pray for all children who wonder who Jesus is and if God hears them when they pray. May their families take the time to teach them about the love of God.