I’ve written before about how our 12-year-old son Charles has blown me away with his intuitive grasp of some of the basic truths of Catholicism and with his natural openness to the Communion of Saints. Today, I wanted to share a story about our 10-year-old daughter Schuyler that also left me amazed.
Schuyler’s a very different person from her brother. Where Charlie is intuitive, Schuyler is analytical. Numerous times in the last few months, Nikki and I both have been struck by the number of times Schuyler has said how happy she is to be Catholic now because it just “makes so much more sense.” Even 10-year-olds don’t like cognitive dissonance.
Schuyler’s happiness with the reasonableness of Catholicism isn’t what prompted this post, however. Rather, it was her reaction last Sunday to being unable to go to Mass with us. As I mentioned in a prior post, Schuyler got a concussion from a fall at school (for which we’d ask continued prayers–her head is still bothering her). After that, when Sunday came around, she was dizzy and nauseated enough that taking her to Mass was out of the question. As I told her she’d need to stay home, she asked me (without any prompting, I promise!): “Dad, will there be a Mass on TV I could watch today?”
I was not prepared for her question but was thankful to be able to tell her that, yes, there would be a Mass on EWTN she could watch. But, beyond that, I was just thrilled that our daughter wanted, on her own and despite her aching head, to do the best she could to participate in Sunday Mass. She even used her little “Magnifikid” missal to follow along with the readings for the day.
This wouldn’t have happened in our family before we came into the Church. First, I don’t think any of our kids, in general, would have thought it mattered all that much to miss a Sunday–and certainly not to miss one when they were sick. I know I wouldn’t have felt that way. And, on top of that, who would they have watched? Charles Stanley, the old-fashioned Southern Baptist; Benny Hinn, the flamboyant faith healer; Robert Schuller, the Crystal Cathedral “power-of-positive-thinking” preacher; or one of the multitude of others? How would I have made sure that any of these were “orthodox” enough for my kids?
No, this was an entirely new experience, and I feel it can be attributed to only one thing: the reality of the Mass. Nikki and I are doing our best to catechize our kids and help them understand and embrace the totality of the Catholic faith. But I am convinced that there’s no possible way we could have created the desire in Schuyler to get as close to Mass as she was able to that day. That desire came from deep within her–from her own sense that the Mass is different from everything else in the week (indeed, that it’s different from everything else on Earth): it is where Jesus Himself comes to meet our little girl, and us, and all others willing to come, in a unique and real way. Quite literally, it is Heaven on earth. And that is why Schuyler wanted at least to see it that day. Looked at that way, as she would say, “it just makes sense.”