Catholic Quick Takes from Timothy

A few weeks ago at Mass, I was taking a quiet moment before communion to talk to Timothy, my two year old, about what was happening on the altar. I was pointing out Jesus on the cross when Timothy said with a serious/sad face, “Yeah, and he died.” Surprised, I said, “Yes, he did die. But the good news is that now he’s alive! He died but then he rose from the dead, and now he lives in heaven.”  Another matter of fact response: “Yeah, and he sits with God the Father of the mighty.” Another surprised face by me. I have not intentionally told my two and a half year old about these truths, but he has picked up on them.

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Two weeks ago I decided it was time to teach Timothy a new prayer to add to his repertoire: the Angel of God. He loves this prayer because it has a nice rhythm to it, and had me say it over and over again until he basically had learned it in two days.  When it was his time to shine and pray it on his own, it went a little something like this: “To light, to guard, to ruin, to died, Amen.”  Close, but not all the way there yet.

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ImageLast Friday we went to a family Adoration at a nearby church. We made it through the whole hour! Timothy learned the words “adoration” and “monstrance.” Well, kind of. Towards the end of the holy hour the Deacon came down from the sanctuary with the monstrance and invited people to come up and kneel before Jesus and touch the humeral veil. As I brought Timothy up to the feet of Jesus in the Eucharist he started asking quite loudly, “Where’s the monster? I can’t see the monster!!”  I guess we still have more to learn about monstrances and adoration!

The good news is, we’re hoping to have lots more chances to learn. Although the kids were running around and tearing up offertory envelopes and talking loudly (Lily liked to hear her babbles echo throughout the Church), it was a family adoration. And we were there, as a family, to adore. It looked different than when I would go to adoration as a single young adult, but it was just as blessed. I want my kids to grow up knowing that adoration is normal, that Jesus in the Eucharist is to be loved and adored, and that Jesus invites us to come and pray, just as we are. And I’m learning that there’s no better time to start than now, even at the ages of 1 and 2. So we’ll be back!

Nursing…and The Cross

My daughter Lily is 10 months old and it has been a hard 10 months. (see: letter to women) When she was 3 weeks old, she had a small procedure done to cut the skin between her top lip and gum. The thick band of skin was making it impossible for her to suck properly, and in those agonizing weeks before the procedure she had already tore away my skin, caused lots of bleeding and incredible pain.

It would take me about 4 more months to fully heal from the bad nursing and a horrible cash of thrush.  In those 4 months the pain was so great that I couldn’t even hold my baby to my chest. I could barely lie down or shower. The burning pain of the thrush felt like it was never going to go away. All my spare time was consumed with reading people’s thrush remedies online, trying them out, and disinfecting everything we touched. My kitchen counter looked like a pharmacy with all our treatments and pain medications.

There were many days when I would call my husband crying telling him I wanted to give up and die.  The pain and the postpartum depression were overwhelming me and I didn’t think we would even make it through end of the day.  Surviving those first few months of her life was the hardest thing I have ever endured.

As I was nursing my daughter to sleep a few weeks ago, I was looking at her sleeping so peacefully in my arms.  In a moment of grace, I blurted out, “I would do it all over again.”  It surprised me. I had gone through the darkest part of my life after she was born, but I was claiming to do it again just so I could hold her; so she could experience life and have a chance to know and to love God.

ImageIt’s one of the most profound experiences of love I have ever had because now I could now more closely relate to Christ’s love on the cross and understand with new meaning the words, “This is my body, given up for you.”  I had shed blood; I had endured what felt like death, and this little bundle in my arms had been worth it.  I can’t say I still feel that way all the time, but it doesn’t take long to recall that moment of grace with clarity and renew my love for my daughter.

Dear mothers, as you know, love hurts and love requires suffering: suffering that is united to Christ on the Cross.  And yet, this deep love is also what we were made for and what we long for.  Whether you are sacrificing sleep to nurse through the night, or have mastitis, or encounter the biting of a teething baby, we nursing mothers are all sharing in the greatest love of all: the sacrifice of the Cross.