Suffer not the little children…

The Painting entitled "Jesus Blessing the...

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Yesterday was Eric’s Confirmation.  One of the seven sacraments that are given to Catholics during life and the final one that you receive as a child.  Him receiving the sacrament was something that I was on the fence about because we’re Christians now.  Not Catholics.  And I want Eric to embrace that, real raw worship of God, not rituals and traditions rooted in the antiquated that make it hard to find God hidden behind them.  And make God feel unobtainable, like this entity far off in the cosmos somewhere watching us on and off with feigned interest.  No, that’s not what God is, He is so much larger and bigger than what I had ever imagined and so much more personal too, attached and interested in each of us genuinely.  Not like an acquaintance that you meet and you small talk with, no He doesn’t want that.   He wants us to talk to Him and be REAL with Him because he’s walked our walks with us.  He’s counted every tear that has every fallen from our cheeks, and knows us so intimately that he knows how many hairs we have on our heads.  Yes, he loves us THAT much!

So, Confirmation, the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit, in this reserved ceremony seemed so strange and ritualistic almost to me now.  But as Eric was kind enough to point out to his brother when he told him “why are you doing that? We’re not Catholic!  We’re Christians now”  He simply responded “well I’m HALF-Catholic!”  Okay.  And in honor of the half of him that was Catholic, we acquiesed.  The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit after all.  And if my son is going to receive a touch of God in any form, then I’m all for it.  Even if that touch comes from an old religion that’s struggling to keep up with modern times and modern issues and challenges.  It almost seems like a an old pressed leaf between the pages of a book that you find after years.  Still clinging to life but really just stuck between two worlds – life and death.

Anyhow, it struck me while I was there, most people that were there had forgotten the old routines of when to sit, stand and kneel.  The priests had to remind everyone of what was to take place next.  That spoke of how often everyone who sat in the pews had been there over the past few months and years… often enough that the hands of time had worn away the traditions that were supposed to have been etched in their minds.

I was also amazed by the high level of distractability of everyone in the church.  Anytime there was a noise (most  often made by a child), about 10 or 20 people would turn their heads to see where the noise came from and glare at the noisy offender, annoyed that they had imposed on their silent glazed self-controlled obedience…

Now if at anytime you find yourself so distracted by little things, one would think it might be time to search your own heart.  What’s going on that your giving the sound of a pew falling or  little feet walking a higher place than God?  Question yourself!  Why are you so quick to turn and judge the child and the parents instead of judging yourself??  Now, this actually has nothing to do with my own children but a man who was seated in front of us with his small 3 year old son.  With every glare, he would turn red and look at his own son with anger.  And his poor little son was pretty well behaved considering the circumstances.

It amazed me though that after YEARS, the same thing is still going on.  I remember every Sunday after mass when I was small getting spanked for having turned around to look at the people behind us and disrupting the mass.  But the Catholic Church has never embraced any sort of children’s church, they always wanted children in service with parents, and the poor parents have to suffer through service trying to feel God’s presence and keep their children as still as if they were immobilized statues without voices, impossible for children.

Now let’s think for a moment, if the adults that kept turning to pay attention to noises were a child in the present day classrooms and displayed that same high level of distractability… what would that lead to??  They could very well be labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and be drugged to become focused.  So my question is… does the problem lie with the child who’s behaving normally or the adult who’s behaving distractedly??  How much of the expectations that we are placing on children today are valid??  And how much of those same expectations that you uphold for others children were YOU able to uphold as a child OR did you have your own children uphold??

Now let’s stop for a moment to look at what the Great Teacher, Jesus, had to say about children…

Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place his hands on them and pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”  When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.  –Matthew 19:13-14

Yes, Jesus stopped and prayed for EACH and EVERY child before he moved forward.  Little children are THAT important to him.  Praise God!  So all of you who are seeking the Kingdom of God, for eternal savation, who basically don’t want to go to Hell until the end of time, you must first make yourself like a child to gain that entry.  So don’t think yourself better than the child or the parent who’s there seeking the same thing you are but sit and marvel at them!  Be in awe of their honest sweet innocence.  LEARN from them!  Pray to God to give you what they have – a childlike heart in love, a childlike heart in faith, a childlike heart in forgiveness.  What is different about how a child loves in comparison to how an adult loves?  What’s different about how a child forgives to how an adult forgives?  And what’s different about how a child has faith, how they BELIEVE versus how an adult believes??

Do you get it now?  Yes, you too, have a few good things that you stand to gain by observing and learning from a child.  And above all else, keep your eyes on God, during service, when praying and even in life in general.  Don’t let little distractions pull you away from YOUR portion.  What is God trying to give and bless you with right now that you are too distracted to notice??

Father God, I just pray right now for us to keep our eyes on you in all things Lord.  And when distractions are wonderful blessings from Heaven, instead of judging, let us be soft hearted Lord!  Remove the callouses that the world has placed on our hearts and give us YOUR heart!  YOUR eyes to see.  We love you Lord.  Help us to seek you every day.  Increase us Lord.  Increase our hearts to love without conditions like children.  Increase our faith to believe like children without science, facts and proof.  Increase our capacity to forgive our hurts Lord without making others jump through hoops and over mountains and hills to EARN forgiveness.  Let us forgive even when its not warranted or deserved to be closer to YOU Lord.  All this I pray and more in JESUS NAME.  Amen.