About Me

My photo
Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Child Heaven

My fifth birthday is the first birthday I remember. Clearly I had had four other birthdays. In fact, my mother loves to show the famous (in my family) picture of me when I was presented in my high chair with my very first birthday cake. I just leaned over and bit into it. (It's been a rule of thumb for the rest of my life, I suppose.) There are actually three snapshots that tell the tale. The fat baby in her immaculate white baby dress, her eyes wide at the whole cake with one candle set before her. The baby with her whole head in the cake. The baby covered in cake.

I don't remember biting the cake. But I do remember my fifth birthday with it's most wonderful present, my own child sized umbrella. It was white with a red design. I was born in the spring and used it all through the spring showers. I remember receiving it and jumping from rock to rock in the garden with the umbrella open over my head. I was in heaven.

A child's heaven.

Today's question:

Not related to this article, but I have a question about scapulars. My 5 year old daughter is completely unresponsive to our Faith. She wants nothing to do with going to Mass, praying and the CFF classes I teach my kids at home. (note: my other 3 children were not excited about it at this age, but not fighting me either). Someone had mentioned a scapular under the mattress for conversion but she doesn't need conversion, she needs something else altogether. Mind you, we don't give her a choice in any of these matters, but I am hoping to see some love of God expressed in some way from her! Any suggestions?
Another question: I have heard that Pope Benedict XVI is coming to D.C. and I will be trying to get the (most likely impossible to get) tickets to see him. Any saint you can suggest for intercession?

Have you tried hitting her with a ruler? That always worked for us back in the old days.


When my little nephew was three I was so pleased to take him to Mass with the family. I told him that he must sit still and be quiet while we were in church because it was God's house.

He was as good as gold. He sat very quietly for quite a while. And then he said, "I don't think He's home."

You can't shove religion, faith and God down the throat of a tot. I wouldn't worry about it. Look at me! All I cared about when I was five was my little red and white umbrella. I turned out alright.

The more you try to shove Jesus at her, the more she'll resist. Jesus will become like going to bed early and eating peas and having to taste one bite of whatever frightening glob your mother is calling dinner tonight instead of just letting you eat macaroni and cheese every day. God's house will be a boring place where you have to be quiet when, as far as you can tell, He's never in there.

Unless all her mother cares about is her umbrella, your daughter will want to be a part of the family and do the things the family is doing. The next thing you know she'll be very excited about her First Holy Communion. What little girl doesn't love to have a new fancy dress? And her own pink rosary? and her own white prayer book?

Christmas is coming. Have you done the "straw in the manger' game with your children?
She might enjoy that one. You get out the empty manger, which is pretty uncomfortable looking, and explain that the baby Jesus will have to sleep there when he arrives. It is up to them to fix up the manger for the Baby Jesus. Every time they do something good they get a straw to put in the manger.

Better yet, if they don't behave, a straw is removed.

They won't want to make the Baby Jesus uncomfortable. Ah, Catholic guilt, instilled from the cradle.

It works a lot better than the ruler. Almost as good as "Santa is watching...."

As for a saint to get you Pope tickets...there are few I would try. St. George is the patron saint of England and therefore the patron saint of getting Stones tickets. With this in mind, the patron saint of Washington DC is our Immaculate Lady.

OR..how about Padre Pio? He could be in more than one place at a time, maybe he could save your seat.

OR..if we go with the idea that a patron saint is someone who has had the same struggle you have, we'd look for someone who was kept out of something in which he wanted take part. Like St. Martin de Porres, who was considered too dumb a bunny to so anything but sweep the floor. He could bi locate also.!

In fact, I think he's your man. Because he could really get people where they wanted to go. Once when he and the brothers were out on a picnic, they realized they had stayed too long and would be late for Vespers. St. Martin had them all hold hands and close their eyes. When he told them to open their eyes they were back at the rectory ready for prayers.

Beam me up, Scottie! Pope Benedict here you come!


Anonymous said...

Sister Mary Martha,
Thanks so much for the great idea with the manger game. I will definitely do that this year. I love those kinds of activities. I usually do one for Lent where the kids add something to a cross for every day they successfully do their sacrifice. Then we talk on Good Friday about how all their sacrifices are only good because of Jesus' one sacrifice. Anyway, great idea.
Ironically the one time I did try to force it on her, we were saying a decade of the Rosary for her grandmother and I was sure her head was going to spin and she was about to spit up green pea soup! I've backed off some since then! Now I just assume she participates, even if she doesn't want to, I just don't force it!
Thanks for your comments and suggestions! And maybe I'll pray to ALL of those saints for help with the Papal visit!

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Awesome stories; awesome post.

Blessings to you today, Sister.

MAB said...

Sister and All,

The straw in the manger really works! I've done it as a child and a parent.

As for the Holy Father, I'm planning to hit NYC when he's there and just hope to be passed by his motorcade!

Unknown said...

Delightful post, Sister!

Wendy said...

I'm on my 4th 5 year old (also home schooling) and it seems to hit then that they can't hear or see God so He must not be there.

After panicking with the first few, I learned that it's important to ask why they don't want to do prayer and to take their concerns seriously and calmly even if it's disbelief in all you've taught them. One thing to point out is the existence of other things that they can't see or feel (like love).

IMHO, this is a critical point in their faith, not that they will continue to reject God as a child, because they will knuckle under, but that if Faith is something that can't be questioned, they will reject it as an adult. We need to give reason for the hope that is in us. Just make sure what her issue is before you start so you don't raise other issues before she's ready (and given the 5 yo attention span!).

Anonymous said...

Zaccheus, maybe, for the Pope's visit?

Anonymous said...

Zaccheus!!!I love it!!!

Sanctus Belle said...

This is my first stop here and this blog is hilarious! I'll visit more often and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Love it, love it! Love this blog! How I wish I lived near SMM so I could bug the stew out of her wisdom!!
Seriously, though, my third child (a boy, after two girls) gave out this behavior as a toddler, then as an elementary- schooler, then as a middle-schooler, then forget about high school... you get the picture? His two older sisters had been fine with family prayers. Began to think of myself as a total model failure. Then, voila, as a COLLEGE STUDENT he got diagnosed with ADD. He had done fine academically all those years before college (parochial and public school), no hyperactivity, no obvious signs except that he was not a big reader like his sisters, antsy with family prayers, and antsy during Mass. We didn't pressure him because my husband just wanted him to find his own way. Weelllll..... he kinda did find his own way, but not, as of this posting, The Way. He is now 26, finally graduated college, good job in Atlanta, but has a BIG allergic response to all things religious. Sure wish I had pursued his inattentiveness more aggressively when he was 6-7.
Just our own personal story--don't know if it will help anyone else. Blessings on all.

Anonymous said...

Ditto Sanctus Belle. Love your wit and wisdom :)

Jean said...

What a great idea! Now I just have to find a manger.

Just A Stay At Home Mom said...

Great post! I love this blog!

Anonymous said...

Great post..

radio45 said...

It reminded me of when I was a kid. My father hated crying kids at church and I wasn't allowed until I asked to accompany him (Mom was Protestant and was happy to stay home at the time-she later converted when I was in high school). Well, I was 3, maybe 4, and Dad told me whatever you do don't make a fuss or I'll upset the baby Jesus. Well, I was quiet as a mouse. After Mass I said, "Baby Jesus was mad today." Dad asked why. "Well, didn't you hear Him crying?" My father laughed all the way home.