It was five years ago. The memory is still in my mind.I entered my room to discover my
five-year-old grandson looking up at a large crucifix on the wall above my bed.
He turned and asked if that really happened. "Yes it did," I replied.
"Did Jesus die?" he asked,
turning back to look at the crucifix.
"Yes, he did." I said. "But that's not the
end of it. He rose from the grave and that gives hope to everyone who believes
"Because it showed us that death
is not the end. It only begins a new life." My little fellow looked
intently again at the crucifix. I was reminded of C.S. Lewis' comment in his
book The Problem of Pain:
"From our own childhood we
remember that before our elders thought us capable of 'understanding' anything,
we already had spiritual experiences as pure and momentous as any we have
undergone since . . . "From Christianity itself we learn
that there is a level - in the long run the only level of importance on which
the learned and the adult have no advantage over the simple and the
Was my small grandson having such an
experience? I don't know but I dared not speak or stir in case he was. Only he
and God knew.
My little guy turned around to face me
with a happy little smile and climbed on my lap. We slowly left the bedroom and
went down the hallway in my electric wheelchair to the kitchen for
There are sacred moments that surprise
us all; they come without warning or prompting; they simply visit, then vanish,
leaving us with peaceful joy or bliss that is beyond our ability to express or
These experiences are more frequent in
early childhood then become rarer as we age and cynicism or doubts jade us and
separate us from the divine.
My experience with degenerative
disability unexpectedly opened a door again to such experiences. It only began
to happen after I stopped fighting disease and surrendered to Christ.
It was a long journey from the initial
bitterness at becoming chronically ill and disabled to a watershed point of
finally being able to truly pray our Lord's words, "Father, if you are
willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be
After all the clever Christian
apologetics are stated and doctrinal positions clearly delineated, we must
still bow in humble repentance, surrender and submit our lives to God through
the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. It is something even children are capable
Long ago I ceased to discount the
prayers of children. Before I converted to Catholicism I attended an
One day I was approached by a youth
ministry leader. He shared with me that the Friday
night teen group was having
a "problem" with a member who had Down's syndrome. She insisted
on coming to the youth group and in devotional time would pray long, long
prayers that bothered the rest of the teens. They were uncomfortable with her
attendance and her praying.
He asked me what could be done? I don't
think he liked my answer.
"Has it occurred to you that her
prayers may be more intense and her communion with God more paradisal than any
prayers the rest of us pray?"
I reminded the youth leader that the
disciples tried to turn away children but Jesus welcomed and blessed them. I
reminded him that Jesus said whatever we do to "the least of these"
we do to him.
He sheepishly looked at his shoes then
responded, "I hadn't thought about it like that. Perhaps the problem is
with us not her."
We must hold up the simple and the
child as indispensable members of Church life.
St. Paul addressed this in 1
Corinthians 12 when he spoke of the Church as many members of one body:
"Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more
necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honourable we
surround with greater honour, and our less presentable parts are treated with
Why are the weaker members more
necessary and the parts less honourable deserving greater honour? It's partly
because the weak call the strong to a higher standard of love and care. The
less honourable members need understanding and acceptance from the more
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