Tuesday of Week 10 in Ordinary Time
2 Cor 1:18-22
Remember it is God himself who assures us all… marking us with his seal and giving us the pledge, the Spirit, that we carry in our hearts.
My son recently ‘attended’ Pentecost Mass online. He was enjoying the children’s liturgy songs and attentively listening to the lyrics and explanations. At one point, he suddenly burst out chirping “Come, Holy Spirit, Come! Come, Holy Spirit, Come!” His voice was angelic and full of mirth, and it dumbfounded me, because he looked truly radiant. He is a little over three and I was amazed at his natural and profound delight in the Holy Spirit (the concept of which I had never explained to him before).
According to Dr Maria Montessori, the child passes through developmentally sensitive periods, and the age of three to six is deemed a particularly sensitive period for religion (or spiritual awareness). This is confirmed by Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobbi, who developed the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and they state that each child is a “carrier of God’s secret.” One can’t help but recall the psalmist, “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13); and, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5). The child’s vocation must be allowed to take shape, bringing to light and fruition the gifts God has bestowed upon the child. i
My experience, and my nascent knowledge of the philosophy behind the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, fills me with awe and wonder. It is as the first reading of our Scripture today proclaims. We are already sealed with God’s Spirit within our hearts, and this is far before baptism (whenever this takes place).
When we are born, God breathes His Spirit into our soul, and by this, gives us life and spirit. This is a very precious and immutable truth. Every human person IS alive because God willed us into existence – even the lives who may not be born. Every human life, even in-utero, is a sign of God’s will for this life to exist. Conception cannot be the mere fertilisation of egg and sperm – and nothing else – because we know that not all meetings of these two, result in a successful conception.
I am saying: there is no mere coincidence, no such thing as dumb luck, when it comes to life and the things that happen in life. I say this as someone who grew up, believing as a child, that perhaps I came into this world as a mistake. I experienced some unhappy and traumatic episodes in my childhood and I struggled deeply with why I had to suffer so. Why me, God?
I was not brought up in a Christian household, although I attended a Christian kindergarten. Whatever I knew of God, I experienced through the grace of having to walk through a beautiful stained glass chapel as part of my everyday kindergarten routine, the kindness of my teachers, and being taught to say grace before mealtimes. However, in my home, God and Jesus were taboo words – words that, if spoken, would be met with derision. Again, given this reality, I wondered if my enrolment in a Christian kindergarten was a ridiculous mistake!
These conflicting worlds were confusing and painful for my young self. But regardless of the disdain my young faith faced, I was always secretly talking with Jesus and praying in the dark at night, especially when I was afraid and could not fall asleep. I had a friend then, and his name is Jesus. I eventually grew up and could more freely choose my faith with an independence that upset my father. I got baptised, I attended Mass, I chose a Catholic spouse, I got married in a Catholic church, and I am intently trying to raise my child to know and love God. All of these happening are not by mere chance.
My faith has never been an easy one. To this day, I continue to stand immensely tested in trials, challenges, disappointments, failures, and deep wounds… all of which remind me plainly of how weak my human flesh is. Yet, when I clean up the snot and tears from my face, I cannot help but recognise and proclaim with contrition and humility, mixed with a great wonder, at how deep God’s Spirit flows within my veins and my being.
I wrestled with penning this reflection as I am presently facing a great trial. But it is indeed true as Jesus reminds us in the Gospel passage, “No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:15-16)
Even as I struggle, I am not doing so in darkness. Even while I have yet to get to a ‘good place’ or do much ‘good works’, my battles are fought in God’s purifying fire – and I shall not be ashamed to continue proclaiming His glory over my journey.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Debbie L)
Prayer: We pray for all who feel alone and rejected. We pray for all who suffer, especially from primal wounds, and struggle to claim freedom from all manner of bondage. We hold these souls in the palm of God’s mercy.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
i Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: Cultivating the Christian Imagination of the Child: https://churchlifejournal.nd.edu/articles/catechesis-of-the-good-shepherd-cultivating-the-christian-imagination-of-the-child/. Note: for detailed sources, refer to the link.