This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
One of my favorite parts of mass is the children’s offertory. The priest holds a large wicker basket at the foot of the altar. Children approach dropping offertory envelopes inside the basket. Brothers and sisters hold hands as they walk up. A shy child requires a nudge of encouragement from parents. Other children race up to the basket occasionally dropping in “surprise gifts” instead of money envelopes! My heart lights up observing the smiles that radiate from the young faces. I think to myself: “These young children are such blessings! How can a woman consider aborting her baby? How can anyone neglect, abuse, or harm a child? These children are so beautiful and full of joy! They should be loved and cherished!”
In today’s gospel, the disciples rebuke parents bringing children to Jesus. Did the disciples not like kids? Did all of the crying and whining give them headaches? Just like many people complain about the child crying in a nearby pew, I’m sure the disciples were annoyed at the little ones making a ruckus! Our Lord made it clear: Let the children come; do not prevent them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
How beautiful is childhood innocence: the carefree spirit, the playfulness, and the natural acceptance of others. Jesus didn’t pass over the children as insignificant. He didn’t ignore them like many parents ignore their own children today. He lovingly accepted and embraced his little children. He saw their innocence, unconditional love and trust as something good. In fact, Jesus instructs adults to be more childlike.
We live in a society where children grow up way too fast. The childhood innocence is short lived, no longer cherished and nurtured. Why the hurry to be all grown up? Why rush into adulthood? We need more childlike wonder! Encourage a little girl to play with her Barbie doll instead of dressing her up as Barbie for a beauty pageant crown. Allow children to be friends with one another without the pressure of “pairing up” as boyfriend and girlfriend. Encourage the exploration of nature and outdoor play instead of the exploration of violent video games. We should encourage our children to be children! Prematurely exposing our children to adult concepts doesn’t benefit them. God never planned it this way. Yet our society encourages, even conditions, our children to behave like little adults.
Children are amazing instruments of grace and love. They are the future of our Catholic Church. As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. we have the responsibility to properly catechize our youth. We have a responsibility to protect them from harm as best we can. Yes, it’s impossible for parents to completely shelter their children from evil in the world. However, parents can teach their kids good manners, kindness towards others, and a solid understanding of right from wrong. If we wish for the Catholic Church to thrive, we must make an effort to pass along the faith to our children. It’s not easy. Sometimes our efforts fail. Our children may leave the faith. But, as long as we make the effort, Our Lord will bless us. We must never give up hope!
As the Season of Lent fast approaches, instead of giving up something why don’t we spend more time with our children! Play with them. Pray with them. Eat with them. Read to them. Teach them. Show them how much they are loved. Always remember our children are blessings from God. Never take them for granted. We can learn so much from our children just like they can learn so much from us. A touch of childlike wonder benefits all of the Children of God!
“Children are the hands by which we take hold of heaven.” (Henry Ward Beecher)
This meditation is written by Jennifer Burgin, a convert to Catholicism. Please visit her blog: Jennifer’s Spectrum of Spirituality.
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