I should have anticipated a challenge in my faith journey when at 18 months I had to sprint up the aisle of our church and was met by a woman wearing beautiful heels and a red suit. Looking up I gasped the woman, beautiful, she smiled. Holding Seraphina she smiled at me, I was teary for she had already lapped the entire church twice during the Consecration. I was hot with eyes on me. I felt them. I saw them.
As I scooped her up mortified, I carried my wiley little love out and hoped the other four children would make it through mass in one piece, alone. Thank goodness that day it was daily mass or I may have been uttering swear words in a place of worship under my breath.
While I stood in the Narthex of the church I continued to cry but chalked up the crazy behavior to Seraphina being the fifth child and my inability to control here -exhaustion.
As time went on, our trips to church became more and more challenging. I still remember sobbing after multiple experiences in multiple churches where people asked us to leave and one experience where I was told never to return–not by a priest or deacon but a Parishioner.
As time went on, I believed I was beginning to lose faith. Truth be told, I needed to dig in deeper and rely on my faith more because my children, all of them were suffering with my anxiety each week as we piled in our car and headed to mass.
During the pandemic, we began attending another Parish, one in town. We had been there before, prior to sending our children to Catholic School. We returned. The first week, it felt good. The second week, it felt better. The third week, my sweet Seraphina had a day and while I exited the parish praying I wouldn’t cry, I was met with a woman who became a guiding light in our family’s return to religion because reality was we had never lost faith, we forgot to lean into it and ask others to accept our family, for who they are. Slightly messy but full of love.
I knew to make this work, I had to let go. Of my expectations. Of what others think of us and today it happened. She sat quietly coloring during the readings–as she always does but when it was time for the Eucharistic Prayer, she did something that blew me away. She stood. I walloped by husband smiling beneath my mask celebrating this triumph. She stood, unprompted. And when we knelt, she knelt too. I sucked in my breath to hold back tears. I tried not to cry and whispered a short prayer of thanks. Today, I was reminded I had the faith all along I just had to wait for His time and my heart being open to hearing Him and where he was inviting me. To follow his plan.
As I reflect, I am reminded of tonight’s homily. Simply put it was about The Holy Family, about Mary, rocking her infant, wondering about the future of the child she held. We were reminded of the way one feels with new life fresh in your arms, full of happiness, wonder and perhaps anxiety over what may be to come. We all feel it, and Mary said yes. To her husband, to God, to her Son and promised to be faithful in His journey because his journey will be better than any journey we have planned for ourselves.
Today I am reminded why I too, say yes. To parenting. To faith. To all my children. Even in darkness, He has a path that will lead me to His light.
Let us celebrate the joy in the moment, let us pray for strength and peace and as we leave this year behind, let us remember that His plan is greater than any we can plan for ourselves.