Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Food for the Soul

On Sunday, Chickadee #1 received Holy Communion for the first time.  First Holy Communion is a BIG DEAL for Catholics.  The children have spent all year preparing for this sacrament (a sacrament is an outward sign of a spiritual reality -- in this case that the Lord is really present in the body and soul of the recipient of Holy Communion.)  Many Protestant traditions think of Holy Communion as a sign of unity between members of the church who are gathered in love for the Lord.  Catholics see the sacrament as an outward sign of Christ Himself united with the believer.    Chickadee #1 was very excited and happy -- she had the dress, the veil, the shoes, fancy socks. She attended a retreat last week in which she made a symbolic banner, constructed a rosary, and took a tour of the church in which she learned about the symbolism and history of the parts of the building (she told me that someone was going onto the ambo and I had no idea what she was talking about -- she informed me that it is the podium from which the lectors read the from the Old Testament and Epistles and from which the priest proclaims the Gospel).  We attended practices and sang songs at home, arranged for chairs and a tent, bought food, ordered cakes.  Her solemnity and beauty in approaching this moment was so gorgeous to observe.  As a parent, it moves me so much to be able to share this with her. 

I remember, a long time ago, someone related a story to me.  In it, the person recounted an unbeliever taking to task a parent for "corrupting" her child's mind with all this claptrap about religion, God, etc.  The unbeliever sincerely thought that religion was inherently bad and that parents should allow their children to "make up their own minds about all that stuff."  In response, the parent said, "When you have something really, really wonderful, the natural thing as a parent is to want to share that with your children -- to help them have this great thing that you have."  It reminds me of the question Jesus asked,  "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?" (Matthew 7:9). 

And it occurs to me, since everything these days seems to revolve around the issue of my weight, that I am actually giving my children, and myself, a stone.  A millstone.  And I keep right on picking it up and passing it on.  How you can simultaneously carry a stone and pass it along is not apparent to me, but I acknowledge that this is what I'm doing.  This book I'm reading, Made to Crave , is wonderful in that it reminds us that we are supposed to be filling up our days with love of the Lord and reliance on His Word.  Lysa TerKeurst's slogan is "Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food."  For myself, that's a lesson I keep having to learn and, despite all evidence from previous times in my life, it appears that I'm not a fast learner.

At a recent mass, as I waited go to Holy Communion, it occurred to me that I was really hungry.  The prayer that welled up in me was something like this -- "God make me hungry for You.  Make realize that the places in me that need to be filled can only be filled by You.  Help me to distinguish the kinds of hunger I feel and to feed them with the correct food." 

And that is my prayer right now, as I sit up late (it's 2:13 am) writing -- my body is craving something (water and sleep, I am sure).  I'm tempted to travel into the kitchen and try that awesome ice cream cake I made for Chickadee's 8th birthday, or the even more awesome cake Costco made for her First Holy Communion party.  Instead, I'm going to have a tall glass of water and turn off the light.

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