My son will be receiving his first Holy Communion this year. I wish I could say that he sits perfectly still at Mass, tries to pay attention, and responds to all the prayers. He doesn’t.
The Sunday before last was especially bad. Perhaps he ate too much Captain Crunch for breakfast. His pointer fingers made for drumsticks during the hymns, the kneeler was his balance beam, and the pew in front of him became a chin-up bar. For the first time since he was a toddler, I took him out of the church.
In the vestibule, I knelt down to look him in the eyes and said, “I need you to use your superhero powers. Superman may be faster than a speeding bullet, but you have another super power. You have the power to be really, really still; so still that no one will even know you are here.”
“But, Mom,” he interjected, “God knows I’m here; God knows everything.”
“You’re right!” I had to admit, “and God is happy you are here.” He smiled. I’m not sure if it was from the thought that he made God happy or from the fact that he just corrected me.
Either way, I went on undaunted: “I know you can’t understand everything Father is saying, but I need you to use another super power you have. You have super-powered ears and you can use them to listen really closely because Father is going to say something that God wants you to hear, and you don’t want to miss it.”
Down on his level, I put my hands on his shoulders and asked, “Do you think you can do it? Can you use your super powers?”
“Yes, Ma’am!” he replied enthusiastically.
“Alrighty then, we are on a mission!” Then back into church we went.
Do you know, it worked! My Spiderman-loving, Batman-playing, Captain America-admiring son behaved angelically for the last bit of Mass. I was even able to pray after Communion totally uninterrupted!
This past Sunday, he reminded me that he was going to use his super powers at Mass again this week. We went on another mission to hear what God wants to say to us.
During the Gospel reading, he tugged on me. I bent over. “We read this story in Sunday school!” he whispered. “Do you know the mustard seed is only this big?” He had his thumb and forefinger almost touching. I nodded and smiled. He was listening!
My son does have super powers – supernatural powers, that is. We all do. They are given to us from God through grace. With them, we can do things that naturally we would be unable or unwilling to do – a little boy can sit still in church and a mom can remain patient in the midst of frustration and be inspire with an idea that came from out of nowhere! A little religious sister can start a new world-wide order just by taking one dying person off the street and giving him a clean place in a loving atmosphere in which to pass from this life. A pregnant mom of three children can choose life when faced with cancer growing inside her along with her baby, placing total trust in God that all will work out for the good. A very young girl whose face was disfigured by cancerous tumors can bring more love and joy into the world in 12 years than most who don’t use their super powers do in a full life time.
In time, I will help my son understand the difference between superhero powers and supernatural grace. For now, though, they are close enough.
Copyright 2016 Kelly Guest