There Are Tiny Catholics Among Us

Howard Duncan

We have seen them in our imagination when we first hear of a pregnancy. We may see them in an ultrasound and marvel as they show us the first outlines of their tiny selves. It is a self that will not soon enough burst out into the open air with a loud hello that informs us that our lives will be changed forever.

Such a tiny revolutionary!

We have seen them at birth and marvel at their little hands and fingers. Even those that cannot see them can feel the teeny-tiny fingers and feet wiggling. We feed them, clothe them, and teach them through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Hopefully, we pay more attention to His direction with these charges than we have with our own lives. Yet, we often seem to treat them so casually.

So How Do They Learn?

The father carried two little boys about two years old or so, probably twins. He was not a large man. I would say that he was tall and of normal build but able to carry his sons one in each arm. Since this was an after Mass blessing, he carried them upright with each having an arm around his neck, instead of the usual playful position of one under each arm like logs. He set them down when he reached the altar rail and they all kneelt. They waited their turn as the priest gave his blessing to individuals and families. The father received the blessing for his family, kissed the priests two hands according to ancient custom, gathered his two bundles, one in each arm and rose to leave.

But first, a mandatory stop at the simple holy water font before they went out the side door of the church.

Okay…how is he going to manage that!

They have done this before. Walk to the font, lean the one in your right arm foreword just enough to reach his still tiny hand into the water. At this point, many things can happen, and I am sure that I have not seen every possible result. This particular time it looked like the little one was getting the idea fairly well.

I was too far away to see exactly how far his little fingers went into the holy water, or should I say how far did his hand get into the holy water. When they came out, he turned to his father and gently patted his forehead with those tiny wet fingers. He may even have patted three times, which would be just fine until he got the hang of making the sign of the cross. He patted his own head then his father said something to him. His brother was next to receive this gesture of family love, then out the door they went.

How About Before Mass?

A little boy appeared in my left peripheral vision as he sauntered passed me in the side aisle. He was probably two years, plus a few months old. He felt at home here. You could tell by his demeanor. He walked ten feet or so ahead of his mother looking at everyone with large eyes open and a face not sleepy or bored. He was confident that he belonged here, but not sure exactly where. He passed me, then his mother passed. They both had the same Where are we going to sit look. However, there was something different about this couple. Most times, parents and children appear to be connected by a short invisible leash in church. Often, a physical connection as Mommy or Daddy steers the child with a firm hand on his or her shoulder. The invisible leash between these two was very long. The same length as when you see a dog taking it’s owner for a run in the park. The owner tries to keep up at his end of a leash just long enough to give the dog a sense of freedom but short enough to sort of comply with the leash law.

In this case, the little guy knew the drill. Mommy found the seat and then when she motions to me, if I happen to be looking at her at the time, I join her. Meanwhile, I am allowed to wander around and check out all the people who already have seats. The next thing we do is kneel and pray.

Mommy gestured gently after waiting for him to turn towards her, then they both entered the pew. Mommy began her prayers as the little one kneelt and discovered the usual things in the rack for hymnals and missals that is fixed to the back of the pew in front of you. He was short and almost eye level to the middle of the books but looked slightly up to them.

Not much interesting here…oh yeah…mommy is praying.

He was in a perfect position to lean into his mother, open his eyes wide and tilt his head back and look up as she prayed. He returned to his personal space, placed his two tiny hands together palm-to-palm and ….

I don’t know what he was thinking, but I do know that he was being taught a tradition and a way that can guide him towards a responsible and happy future in life, and then eternal life with his Creator.

People were bringing even infants to Him that He might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it. (Luke 18:15-17)

This is exactly what we are doing when we introduce our tiny Catholics to the faith. We give them the opportunity to have Him touch them.

If you happen to be a parent, aunt or uncle, grandparent, or just an observer, I am sure that you have stories about tiny Catholics to tell. Share them with us in the comment boxes if you wish. I know I would like to read them.

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19 thoughts on “There Are Tiny Catholics Among Us”

  1. I saw a teenager in the chapel after Mass teaching the Faith to 2 little girls age 5, her niece and her friend. The little ones had beautiful long black hair and were wearing bright white dresses. She told them, “This is where we adore and pray to Jesus. He’s right in there in that gold thing. You know the bread that I take at Communion? Well the priest blesses it and it’s a miracle that it becomes the body of Jesus.” Then one of the girls said a prayer, “Please bless my family and all the people of the world.”
    “That’s a beautiful prayer,” said the aunt and then showed them how to approach the Tabernacle. “Don’t touch it. Now bend,” and they both bent slightly and put their little hands together in prayer. I told her afterwards how inspiring this was and that it was the greatest wisdom they could learn.

  2. A very little boy ahead of me at Mass watched Father intently. At consecration when Father elevated the Host, the little boy put his hands together just like Father and raised them up. I was touched.

  3. I like to think that I introduced my son to God and the Church in utero. We lost him 15 weeks into the pregnancy, I don’t even know if he could hear us praying yet, but surely he somehow experienced God’s presence when my husband and I prayed together and especially when I received the Eucharist. He attended Mass just about every day of his short life… not many of us can say that.

    1. I believe in God’s mercy and am sure that you both do. Your Tiny Catholic was touched by Christ via the Eucharist as you both responded to Luke 18:15-17.

  4. Birgit Atherton Jones

    Last Sunday, during Mass, six-year-old Simon leaned over and whispered, “Nana, you’re definitely wheat”. So proud of him because he was listening to the readings/homily and feeling grateful for his loving compliment.

    1. Gotta love Simon for that. Parables like the wheat and weeds is one that I am sure kids can get but we seem to have been the original target.

  5. We loved to take our children to church for Mass. They have quickly learnt the manners, the devotion etc. Of course my wife and I used to tell them the importance of consecration, the devotion and piety we should have etc. They loved to stand before the Tabernicle and statue of Mother Mary and said a short prayer. The eldest is now 54 with three children and the other four too with their children , in different places.

    1. My three are spread out too in other states. Seeing kids at Mass reminds me of when they were young, although I was not Catholic then.

  6. *grin* My daughters are in love with the holy water– they have the baptismal font up all the time, so we always have to stop there on the way out, so I can lift them up to cross themselves. (Baby Baron is just getting to where he gets the idea that his hand gets wet, and then mom makes the sign of the cross while talking at him.)

    They’ve also decided that every time after Mass we have to go up to “see Jesus.” After a couple of times of explaining to Princess that THIS one is a statue of Jesus, THAT one is Christ-Jesus on a Cross, and Jesus is in the little gold-and-cloth box thing right there, remember how Father blessed the bread and what he said…. she now explains it to Duchess, Baron and me. 😀

    Princess takes her responsibility for giving the offering to the usher very seriously, and Duchess is likewise very serious about getting the newsletter. No idea what I’m going to have Baron do when he’s big enough to want a job.

    1. Great times at Mass. I usher sometimes and I always make a point of bending down and slowing down for the little ones to put their offering in the basket. One time at a second collection I thought I saw money in the hand of a preschooler who had contributed before. I looked intently but he shook his head gently no and I nodded and smiled okay.

    2. Catholic pilgrim

      My Dad did the same thing to me as a small child: he’d give me the family’s offering so I could put it in the basket during Mass. It’s a good practice to teach small children the value of Christian stewardship.

    3. It is an important thing to kids to do this, it helps to makes them part of this otherwise adult event.

  7. Wow, I wish I had as good of a handle on my two boys (1.5 and 3) as the father you describe. I can restrain them both at the same time if I have to, but the trick is, doing it in a suit and tie in summer in Arizona without sweating like a pig…

    1. Yeah Joe, it was intriguing. They were interested in the whole affair. But once outside I could not tell you if mayhem erupted or not. And it was a cool morning.

  8. Pingback: Praying Daily to Mary for My Vocation -

  9. This post is off-limits to the usual heated discussions about anything you don’t like and those comments will be deleted – take a breather. If your intensity over those issues is extreme and you are truly in danger of bursting wide open there are several good posts on Catholic Stand waiting for your comments, or, I’ll be available next month for general abusive treatment.

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