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A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith
Official Website of the
Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
Published: December 14, 2019
By Agnes Tirrito
St. Edward Church, Texarkana
“Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.” (Isaiah 11:6)
It is almost time for Communion. My granddaughters are with me in the pew, and one often takes hold of my hand or rides my hip to the line. Today is different though. Emma hesitates, then asks the question that changes everything about this part of the Mass for me: “Why everybody look sad, Lou?”
It is just as she says it is. I look at the lines of people forming. Some have heads bowed, some hold a prayerful posture, some sing; but not one person is smiling. Not one. What have I missed that a 3-year-old spots immediately? How often have I approached thisCommunionline with my mind on my problems or litany of prayers, and not my reasons for joy? Why would anyone want to get in this line?
I hope you have someone like Emma in your life to ask the questions that will keep you pondering why you believe what you do, why you act like you do and what you want Jesus to see as you receive the gift of him. Our children are watching us. Give them something beautiful to see.
Well, Emma has a way of reminding me and teaching me to look at things as they are. I did not have the answer for her in that moment, other than to reassure her with a smile that all was well. Her question, though, stayed with me the whole rest of the day, and her question changed everything about how I now walk up that aisle each week.
Consider the power we have as we walk up to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. As I learned from Father Paul Francis Worm, former pastor at St. Edward in Texarkana, years ago, the word "Eucharist" means "thanksgiving." The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Eucharist is “an act of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits, for all that he has accomplished through creation, redemption and sanctification.” (catechism, no. 1360)
We have all heard the phrase “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Let’s turn it around and remember he likely loves a cheerful receiver, too.
So, what can we do to prepare for meeting Christ in the sacrament? This season of Advent, perhaps keep a running list of good things that happen to you or your loved ones each day: waking up to a much cooler climate in Arkansas’ December, helping someone at work or home, eating good food or preparing holiday recipes, resting under comfortable and clean linens, interacting with others with joy and laughter and noticing the beauty of creation are just a few things that come to mind.
Bring those to the altar with you next week. Keep a few memories in your mind’s eye and smile as you take your place with others who also understand that the greatest gift of the Church should be accepted with a smile. Watch your inner life expand when you make this smallest of changes.
And, on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning, when we approach Communion with the baby Jesus in the manger nearby, surely it will be with a ready, unrehearsed smile. I hope you have someone like Emma in your life to ask the questions that will keep you pondering why you believe what you do, why you act like you do and what you want Jesus to see as you receive the gift of him. Our children are watching us. Give them something beautiful to see.