Thursday, November 26, 2015
On Tuesdays I Cry
It is going on a year now, I guess, since that first time it happened. As the Tuesday noontime mass ended, Father stepped down from the altar, turned back to kneel, and then rose to leave the church down the main aisle. The people sang the recessional hymn, but a man in the first row went up to the priest and asked: “Father, would you bless my baby?” It was obviously a young newborn.
Father stopped, took the baby into his arm, placed his hand on the baby’s head, closed his eyes and began praying. Now a priest holding a baby is not a common event, and two young boys walked up from their nearby pew to see this sight, and they stood there looking up and staring as Father continued to pray. After a bit, he completed his prayer, handed the baby back to his father, and stopped as he noticed the two boys in front of him. And so he reached down and put his hands on one and then the other, and prayed over them also.
And so it began.
The numbers at mass grew gradually, as the word spread among parents. There never was any announcement or comment in the weekly church bulletin about what was happening. Nor was there any announcement at the mass, like: “Okay, now ‘s the time to come up here.” No, the mass ends, the priest steps down from the altar, and the kids just quietly line up to receive God’s blessing.
The majority of the children seem to be too young for Holy Communion, although a number of teens now regularly walk up to be blessed and prayed over. Well over a hundred people now attend that Tuesday noon mass, and 50 – 75 or more children come up for blessing. Father asked two deacons to assist at the mass, and the blessings, but still it is not uncommon for us to sing 5 – 7 versus of the recessional hymn.
One Tuesday, I fondly recall, the first child up the aisle was a toddler, walking in that wobbly toddler way, with both arms held up high for balance. And when the tiny little girl reached the front of the center aisle, alone, she stopped, put her arms down at her side, and bowed her head --- a little angel waiting for God’s blessing.
I cry every Tuesday. Oh sometimes tears begin as I receive Communion and perceive God’s presence, but my tears always flow at the end, in response to the kids’ quiet enthusiasm and smiles as afterward they walk back to their parents.
You know I’ve written of late about how God talks to us, but on Tuesdays I see how He doesn’t need words, just actions. This week because I am in Arizona I will miss my parish Tuesday noon mass and seeing the kids. And I’ll miss crying; I mean I will really MISS crying, at seeing God so love His children.
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Well, almost. Today at the Thanksgiving Day mass I attended, three young boys were called up to the altar after the Gospel. Dressed in black, they looked like little ninjas. I didn’t know what was going on. But the priest prayed over them, sprinkled them with holy water, and then they put on the white surplus over their heads --- they were newly blessed altar boys. And they all turned to face us, hands folded, and with beaming smiles. And all applauded --- and yeh, I kinda shed a tear. More blessings, just when I needed them.