Keep her eyes fixed on Jesus

Keep her eyes fixed on Jesus

Mary Gibson has some nice words to say about my post on our bored, distracted, and overstimulated kids. She
recalls the example of some parents and positive steps they take with their child.

True story – some friends of mine had a 2-year-old boy (now 4). This child was as squirmy as any kid I’ve ever seen, but when they brought him into church for Mass, he was dead silent and awe struck at everything around him. Why? I think it is because they did not condescend his youth – instead, they constantly stayed with him, murmuring to him what was going on, why they were doing what they were doing, what was happening up on the altar. Instead of assuming that he couldn’t understand what was going on, and attempting to “time the distraction” of toys to the Consecration, they assumed he COULD know what was happening and who Jesus is. And so he did. And so can your child – if they’re not already addicted to the 30 second rule of entertainment!

This is what we do with Isabella, although Melanie is more successful at this than I am. At the Consecration, she points to Father at the altar and whispers to her, “Look at Jesus!” This builds on our home rituals of giving her the cross to kiss and every time she wakes up from sleeping, pointing to the cross above her crib, and saying, “Good morning, Jesus!”

Now whenever we pass by a church with a cross or a statue of Jesus or Mary or a saint (she still has difficulty sorting them out), she points and repeats, “Jees, Jees.”

It’s not rocket science. It’s persistence and consistency. We’re not perfect by any means. We forget, get tired, are cranky, or whatever. But we do our best to remember and there is a pay off.

I just read on a parenting blog some sage advice about the hard stuff in parenting: “Pay me now or pay me later.” Good advice.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • That works up until you have two kids.

    Once you hit three, however. . . .

    On the other hand, when we have other adults to “divide and conquer,” it works great!

    our five year old sometimes will just go sit in a pew by herself so she doesn’t get distracted by her other siblings.

  • I have to admit, as both an introvert and a convert without a great example of “catechesis in every moment” (if you will) I find this very, very hard to do.  Of course, the difficulty of it makes those successes even more sweet.  Just this weekend my son learned what a seminarian is and that it’s very important to pray for them.

    I think I’m beginning to draw the conclusion that you should tell them like it is and let them show that they don’t quite understand it.  I brought my 5 y.o. daughter to Adoration the other day – she got most of what was going on to my great joy and surprise.  We even managed a short discussion on the Real Presence.  Kids – they’re smarter than you think.

  • I think kids do understand more than adults might give them credit for.

    One of my best memories from childhood is how my dad would never talk down to me. Once when I was about 7, we stayed up past my bedtime talking abou binary code—you know, where everything is written using 1 and 0. Then once when I was maybe 10 we were driving past an apartment we used to live in that had burned down, and Dad said how we were separated from that fire by 1 dimension—the fourth. So, I was getting some pretty heavy scientific stuff by the time I was in middle school. If Dad had been religious then I doubt he would have dumbed down religious concepts just because I was a kid.

    One thing that drives me really insane is how some religious texts for teenagers are dumbed down. If the kid is 14, he’s probably capable of understanding concepts at an adult level. It’s a bit insulting to be condescended to like that. But I am getting off topic…this is just something I feel very strongly about.

  • I’ve heard of very young children having mystical experiences too.

    My dad tells a story (I don’t remember the incident, sadly) of when I was about 4 or so I came in from the backyard very agitated and told my parents I’d been talking to a man. They were quite concerned, naturally, until I revealed that the man was “my friend, Jesus.” They had told me that Jesus was my friend who was always with me and I guess I took them at their word.

    Because of this story, I’ve never assumed Bella is too young to have a relationship with Jesus and the saints. Nor is she. Like Dom says, she says hi to every crucifix, statue, and religious image she sees. And she randomly brings me the holy water during the day so I can bless her. And she reminds me to pray when we hear sirens. Sometimes I think she’s a better Catholic than I am and I wonder who’s catechizing whom.

  • Here’s another inspiring story about a child (age 5 and unbaptized, uncatechized) experiencing Jesus in the Eucharist after a kind adult took the trouble to draw his attention to the presence.