For the past month i have been trying something new with my 4 year old. In the mornings after dropping my 7 year old at school, me, Annabel -4, and baby Angelica – 9 months, go across the road to the church to pray.
We take rosaries and mantillas and books and other interesting things to look at while we are there. I make Annabel take her shoes off when we go into the church because bare feet are quieter. She knows she has to whisper because Gods house is a special quiet place where we all come to pray. Angelica is an easy baby who is not walking and is usually very quiet apart from letting out the occasional loud “Ba!” which happens to be her best sound at the moment. We blow kisses to the picture of Therese of Lisieux as we walk past. We watched her film together last week and loved it. Annabel has come to love Therese as much as i do and even dresses up as her by putting her blanket over her head as a veil!! Ha! Ha!
We all go down to the back of the church to Our Lady’s chapel which is well out of the way of the main congregation area. I kneel, the baby sits at my feet and plays with her cloth book or her plastic slinky. Annabel dances around the chapel – in silence – usually with her blanket tied round her head because she is playing Therese of Lisieux. Every so often she comes to sit with me and we cuddle while i continue to pray. She waves and blows kisses to “Mummy Mary” as she dances past her statue. She understands this is home. She understands she is loved here. She understands God is here. She witnesses her mother praying in silence. She sees how much I l value and love prayer.
There are usually 4 or 5 other people in the church praying at that time (our church can hold approx 3000 on a full day). On Monday there are the volunteer cleaners who chat away as they clean, which i feel they really shouldn’t do – especially on the sanctuary – but I’m sure they mean no harm!
On Wednesdays it is Adoration. As usual i take the kids down the back to Our Lady’s chapel so as not to disturb the other people there. From our spot you can just see Jesus in the Eucharist from the back of the Monstrance on top of the altar. I need this time with Jesus desperately. I get so little time with Him. Every so often i bring Annabel close to me and ask her “Look! Who’s that over there?” to which she replies “Jesus!”. My daughter understands the real presence. She blows a kiss and then goes back to playing Therese of Lisieux.
I have noticed a real difference in Annabel over the last month. At bedtime her prayers have changed from being a shopping list of toys that she wants to talking to Jesus who she knows loves her. She now prays from her heart because she knows what real prayer is – a conversation. She has felt the presence of God – i have no doubt of that. This has come about because i have ensured she has had the time and space to feel it in our daily morning trips to the church.
This morning a dear friend of mine came to talk to me as we were leaving the church. She had been asked to pass on a message by one of the more mature (and i use that word ironically) lady’s of the parish. The message was this:
“Please don’t come to Adoration with your children as they are very distracting and we prefer complete silence.”
I hid my initial shock and hurt and thanked her for passing on the message.
I’m glad i don’t know who this person is because then i would probably have to go and say something to them which would probably result in me having to go to confession, again. And if i do find out who it is, i will have to restrain myself from unleashing the tirade of sarcastic responses that start popping into my shocked and hurt brain:
“So when should i bring my kids to adoration then?”
“Sorry – i didn’t realise we were spoiling your adoration.”
“Perhaps the Lord is calling you to spare a prayer or two for my kids? Or even for me?”
“How many other 4 year old’s do you know who understand the real presence? Most adults don’t even get it!”
“Should we not adore as a community?”
“Perhaps you should tell the Priest we are bothering you?”
“How long have you been talking about me and my children to other people in a negative way behind my back.”
“Why did you not have the courage to come and tell me yourself?”
“Perhaps you should just go to the evening session when we are not there?”
“Does the 20 mins that my kids are here distract you so much? Oh I am sorry – try doing it 24 hours a day 7 days a week.”
“Shall i tell Annabel you said she is not welcome? Or would you like to do it yourself?”
“Do you know how hard i try as a Catholic Mother living in a militant secular culture?”
“How dare you try to stop someone from coming into the presence of Jesus.”
“You are like nearly 80. How much more formation do you need?! My daughter is just at the beginning of her life with Jesus.”
“Have you told Jesus what you told us? Perhaps you should, and see what He has to say about it (you will have plenty of time to do so next Wednesday morning during Adoration.)”
It’s best i don’t find out who it is.
Tomorrow is Tuesday. I will be taking my children to the church to pray as usual. I will also be feeling un-welcomed by a stranger i know is watching me and wishing i wasn’t there. I will pray for them.