We usually like to attend evening Mass at our Parish. Faith-filled young adults from the local Catholic college also come to this service which is really nice to see. We love singing the mixture of traditional and contemporary music led by the talented and upbeat youth choir.
Yesterday, we decided to go to morning Mass which is popular with younger families and thus the pews are filled with adults and children of all ages. Sometimes the choir sings hymns which are appealing to the younger children as they can easily follow along and sing the melody. A good example was the entrance song that we sung, a beautiful repetition of one simple phrase;
Prepare ye the way of the Lord…
Before lighting the Advent candles, Father called God’s “little people” aged 3 yrs. – 7 yrs., up to the front to gather for the Children’s Liturgy. I was busy craning my neck to catch a glimpse of the excited children as they scurried towards the Advent wreath, when it suddenly dawned on me — Keaton will be 3 yrs. old next month.
“Keaton should be there with all of them too” I whispered to my husband who sat beside me; I tilted my head slightly towards the group of children. He looked at me knowingly, squeezed my hand and nodded. I did my best to hide my emotions and quickly wiped the few unexpected tears away as Mass continued.
I couldn’t help but think about the little milestones that would have been celebrated in our family. Next month, our son would have been old enough to be to be a part of the Children’s Liturgy and listen to the Gospel in kid-friendly language. He would be one of those sweet boys and girls who would come running back to the pews, with a brightly coloured picture or craft in his hand eager to show us what he learned from the teachers. We would be the ones to look over our shoulders to make sure Keaton found his way back to us, kiss him on the head upon his return and admire the beautiful, messy artwork that he proudly would have presented…
As I thought of my son, I wondered what he must be doing in heaven. Do they have Children’s Liturgy there? Jesus must teach our children Himself, right? Does Keaton already know all he needs to know? What if-
And almost mid-thought, I was no longer distracted. I felt the Holy Spirit re-directing my attention to the readings as they were being spoken out loud. I was keenly aware of the following words as I listened;
Comfort, comfort my people, says your God…. He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day…. But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way;…John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins…I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
*From EWTN for Dec.4, 2011. Note bold emphasis is my own.
Fittingly, the first Communion Hymn that was sung was “Like A Shepherd“
Like a Shepherd He feeds His flock
and gathers the lambs in His arms
Holding them carefully close to His heart,
leading them home….
Let’s just say, the scripture readings and Communion Hymn spoke for themselves and I no longer felt a need to wonder and try to figure out what Keaton was doing. My son was in the arms of Jesus and at the same time, our son was also very much with us as well.