"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pope Francis and the Little Way

Pope Francis offers the key to welcoming the Child Jesus.

True devotion to the Child Jesus is learned by welcoming the child - or as the Holy Father said, "'look to the lives of children' in order to learn to love and welcome Jesus."

The Holy Father has often spoken of his love for little children, loving them at Mass, even when they are noisy or distracted or restlessly crying out for attention.  For myself, it was devotion to the Child Jesus which taught me to love little kids - especially at Mass - no matter how 'wild' they get.  Every time I hear a little kid fall and burst into tears I feel it - I pray for him - I pray for kids who suffer or who are not welcomed.  The writings of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity taught me to honor them as little tabernacles of the Blessed Trinity.  So I think I understand the Holy Father's recommendations on devotion to the Divine Child.

Devotion to the Child Jesus is widespread. Many saints cultivated this devotion in their daily prayers, and wished to model their lives after that of the Child Jesus. I think in particular of St Thérèse of Lisieux, who as a Carmelite nun took the name of Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. She is also a Doctor of the Church who knew how to live and witness to the “spiritual childhood” which is assimilated through meditation, as the Virgin Mary taught, on the humility of God who became small for us. This is a great mystery. God is humble! We who are proud, filled with vanity, believe we are something big: we are nothing! He, the Great One, is humble and becomes a child. This is a true mystery. God is humble. This is beautiful!
As we see, we know little of the Child Jesus, but we can learn much about him if we look to the lives of children. It is a beautiful habit that parents and grandparents have, that of watching what the children do.
We discover, first of all, that children want our attention. They have to be at the centre — why? Because they are proud? No! Because they need to feel protected. It is important that we too place Jesus at the centre of our life and to know, even if it may seem paradoxical, that it is our responsibility to protect him. He wants to be in our embrace, he wants to be tended to and to be able to fix his gaze on ours. Additionally, make the Child Jesus smile in order to show him our love and our joy that he is in our midst. His smile is a sign of the love that gives us the assurance of being loved. Children, lastly, love to play. Playing with children, however, means abandoning our logic in order to enter theirs. If we want to have fun it is necessary to understand what they like, and not to be selfish and make them do the things that we like. It is a lesson for us. Before Jesus we are called to abandon our pretense of autonomy — and this is the crux of the matter: our pretense of autonomy — in order to instead accept the true form of liberty, which consists in knowing and serving whom we have before us. He, the Child, is the Son of God who comes to save us. He has come among us to show us the face of the Father abounding in love and mercy. Therefore, let us hold the Child Jesus tightly in our arms; let us place ourselves at his service. He is the font of love and serenity. It will be beautiful today, when we get home, to go to the nativity scene and kiss the Baby Jesus and say: “Jesus, I want to be humble like you, humble like God”, and to ask him for this grace. - NEWS.VA

Hopefully pastors and parishioners will understand the importance of children at Mass.  On Sundays kids leave the church for a Children's Liturgy of the Word, and parents with rambunctious children are asked to take their kids to the 'Cry Room'.  I don't like that at all.  A crying baby or a giggling toddler is a beautiful sound, a wonderful homily - and a reminder to welcome and protect the child at every stage of life.


  1. I am all for kids being at Mass but when the parents do nothing about toddlers running up and down the aisles I don't like that. When a baby/child is crying continually during the homily or consecration I don't like that either. We have a couple of families in my parish with 4-9 kids and while the littles have trouble sitting the whole hour they know that if they must talk they are to whisper. The families with 1 or 2 kids don't seem to have a handle on the noise level. No judgements - just observations. However, the absolute worst behaviour I ever witnessed at Mass was a young teen girl poking and pestering and whispering with her little sister. The parents sat next to them saying NOTHING. Good thing I was 2 pews back or I would have tapped Little Missy on the shoulder and told her to grow up. OK, rant over.

  2. All during Advent I have been trying to understand the concept of welcoming Baby Jesus. He was born and grew up so I don't really get it. Or does this refer to Him being born anew in our hearts? Signed, Clueless

    1. Don't think about it - just love him. I stand mesmerized by him before the creche - I get there early before anyone else and just stare at him ... loving him. He fills my heart with awe. Don't think - love.

    2. I remember once a good old time Claretian preached that the "Christ child is like a love magnet. He sees you approach and he opens his arms wide to you in complete trust, loving you in his sacred humanity and wanting your love in return."

      As the years have passed, I have never forgotten what Father H said so that every time I look at the Babe, I think of picking him up and holding him close and like a little human baby, he clings to me and wraps himself in my arms trusting and loving and wanting to be loved and trusted in return.

      Happy New Year to all! Let's hold Jesus closer to our hearts as only He can make us truly happy and small and holy.

      To you dear Terry, I remain grateful to your blog but especially to you for your kindness and devotion and faith. I thank you for gifting us all with your sharing of these gifts. May God bless you forever!

    3. I fell asleep last night thinking about loving baby Jesus :) and today is the day I make my Consecration to Mary :) :) :)

  3. I think that we, too, need God to Big and protective of Us - as we are indeed so very much children that we don't even know our own helplessness. I think of this often lately. In my anxiety about so very, very many things...I now often turn, not only to inner litanies to Our Lady....but to my favorite of all, the Novena of Surrender to The Will Of God, which helps me so much to keep all 'the world' in its proper perspective.
    Now in an elementary school, in one of the lowliest jobs possible, I have such joy in hearing the mayhem of the children: seeing their faces, those 'wide wide open stares'. Their lunch time is 'where it's at' for them, I gather. I love knowing I am helping to prepare their food: I am happy cleaning up after them, mopping et al.
    I too have a block in understanding devotion to, say, The Divine Infant of Prague (but St Teresa carried one with her everywhere she went, didn't she ?) although I have a statue of Him. Fr. Longenecker has a post about this, 12/28.
    Now that I know...it can be great to be 'a peon'...perhaps it is about being a foot soldier for an Infant King. I don't know....

  4. In my last parish I called the 'cry room' (lovely name, by the way) "Little Dachau." Why, people asked. You go to a room filled with crying kids as you look through thick window at people in prayer, Sunday after Sunday, and you lose your faith.

  5. could you review this book, Terry? It supports LGBT marriage from a Roman Catholic Traditionalist view: http://www.amazon.com/Faithful-Truth-How-orthodox-Catholic/dp/1468153900/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365973748&sr=1-1

    1. Hi Nate - sounds like an interesting read posing academic argument against magisterial teaching on sexuality and marriage - which is consistent with traditional Judaic teaching. Frankly all of that is settled in my mind - I'm not the marrying kind gay or straight and the author's premise is of little consequence to me. I am also convinced of the immorality of homosexual acts and I accept Catholic teaching on the subject with great freedom of spirit. My conscience is formed accordingly and I couldn't consent to any other teaching.

      If others choose to be married and engage in homosexual acts, that is their choice. Civil law protects their right to do so - Catholic teaching condemns it - and that can't change.

      Thanks for suggesting I review the book, but it would be a waste of my time. I did a sort of review of Tushnet's book, and the best I could say is that I admire her good will, her sincerity, her honesty, and determination to seek God.

  6. +JMJ+

    At the Mass my mother went to, a toddler threw up. He sprayed his mother and his father, and soaked half the pew. (By "pew" I mean the furniture, not the people on it--LOL!) According to my mother, it kind of stunk up the whole (air conditioned) church and it took forever for someone from the parish office to show up with proper stuff for cleaning.

    Believe it or not, I'm not sharing this story as an argument that little children don't belong at Mass. I don't ever want that poor little boy thinking he is not as welcome at Mass as the rest of us.

    1. Remember the priest who asked you to remove your hat for communion? Happy New Year!


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