This happened in my local church, a couple of Sundays ago.
The small child began to fuss noisily in the pews just as the Consecration was about to begin. “Oh no,” I thought, “Not during the most solemn part of the Mass!” Then my heart went out to the baby’s parents, who were probably thinking the same thing.
Knowing deep down that the presence of babies and children is a true blessing in any Sunday service, I resolved not to fight against the noise. Irritation, frustration, even anger can build inside of me when things don’t go the way that I think they should, but I try to remember that getting what I like is not the point of my life. The true joy of my life is in receiving what God gives me.
What I like is silence at Mass when the priest repeats the words of Jesus at the Last Supper — “This is my body” — and we are, by the grace of God, connected to that very moment at Calvary when Christ’s body is lifted up on the Cross. Silence is indeed a blessing for this part of the Eucharistic Liturgy when it allows us to hear the voice of God speaking love, mercy, and redemption into our hearts. What I got that day was not silence, however, it was a fussy child’s whimpers and cries. So I had to remind myself again not to struggle to get what I think is right but to relax and be open to the will of God, and to listen for Him.
And that’s when I heard Him.
“This is my body,” the elderly priest said, barely audible over the noise of the baby, “Do this in memory of Me.” Then the priest elevated the host and, as the Body of Christ was lifted up above the altar, was lifted up on the Cross at Calvary, the little child, as though deeply suffering, cried out “Mama, help!”
I was done in. The child Jesus trips and falls and calls for his mother; the grown Jesus feels the searing pain of the nails in his limbs and looks down into the compassionate eyes of Mary. The Eternal Now, the happening of everything at once in God’s sense of time which is timelessness, and the interconnection of every human being in Jesus Christ never hit me with such clarity and reality as when that baby cried during Mass. We are all one, united together throughout time and space, beyond time and space, in the eternal bond of divine love.
Sometimes, it’s what we don’t like that is the real blessing — if we allow it.
“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
© 2019 Christina Chase
Scripture quote Matthew 19:14, NAB
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.