45 minutes. I can tell you when about 45 minutes have passed during Sunday Mass because that’s when my boys start fidgeting. That’s a lie. They fidget the whole time. But at 45 minutes it starts getting rough. And HOW CONVENIENT! That’s right at the Consecration. The time when I want more than anything, for the sake of my own spiritual growth and that of those around me, for them to just sit still already! I try pointing at the priest extending the Eucharist. I say, “Listen! The bells!” And as a last resort, I issue the ultimate threat: No post-Mass donuts! Dun dun duuuun!
Last week the most curious thing happened. I was kneeling while my two-year-old stood next to me on the kneeler. I had my arm wrapped around his waist, because sometimes actual physical restraint is the best method of keeping him still (plus I like to channel my inner “Elasti-Girl” and use my stretchy arms). After he had remained still for a few minutes, I moved my arm and just placed it on his tiny little-man hip. He grabbed my hand and pulled it back to its original position, so he was once again held tight and enveloped by my grip. I got a kick out of it and waited a few moments and tried again. Once again, he move my hand back, showing that he preferred to be in the tighter grip with my arm completely around him.
We (you and me specifically, but also people in general) are so afraid of rules and restraint. Aren’t we? We want to make our own decisions and not let anyone (or any Church, really) tell us what to do. One of the most common arguments against religion is that it is “a set of rules.” Why can’t we see that these rules and restrictions are God’s arms wrapped around us? I want my kids to sit still for the good of others and for their own benefit, so they see the miracle before them. So does God!
The amazing paradox in all of it is that when we embrace the “rules” we also come to embrace the embrace! God’s arms don’t feel like chains. They feel like a protective, caring hug. But that comes from knowing Him too. I doubt my little guy would have enjoyed being gripped by a stranger, but my arm was comfort to him.
Is there a teaching or position of the Church that you struggle with? I’ll put these out there: Contraception. Capital Punishment. Abortion. Tithing. Annulment. Male-Only Priesthood. Immigration. As parents we have a unique perspective of why boundaries, rules and structure are important – necessary even, so why do we fight them? Is it fear? A lack of trust? Pride? How can we embrace the Church which really, wants to extend God’s embrace to us?
Copyright 2016 Abby Brundage