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The Wisdom of Children: Weekly Message for 10-18-2022
If you have driven the stretch of I-80 between Omaha and Lincoln, you may have noticed what appears to be a tall glass house on a hill. This is the Holy Family Shrine, a truly majestic chapel, overlooking the highway and beckoning travelers to contemplate the Divine. Inside, the Holy Family is etched in the glass wall behind the altar. As you sit in prayer, the rolling hills and fields of wildflowers provide a beautiful landscape.
I recently attended a holy hour in the shrine at sunset. The sky burst with gorgeous blues and pinks and purples over the land, but it was the children’s beauty that moved my heart. As the shrine overflowed with people, many stood outside to gaze at Jesus through the windows. With the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the alter, small children approached the altar in adoration, and a dozen more who could not enter due to the numbers, lined the outside perimeter on their knees. A small boy of about four knelt at the steps with his hands folded and his eyes fixed on Jesus. He knelt there, on the stone floor, for 20 minutes and barely moved.
I thought of the Gospel verse in Matthew, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt. 19:14). I do not know the prayers on the little boy’s heart, but I am certain our Lord heard them. I felt deep in my spirit how very pleased Jesus was by his innocent and trusting heart and by the little faces peering in from the windows outside. The mystery of the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is not a stumbling block for children. They see Him through the eyes of their pure hearts. It is us adults, weighed down by our sin and the sins of others, that are made blind to the love of Jesus radiating from the monstrance.
Pope John Paul ll, whose feast day we celebrate this week, penned a letter to children in 1994. He wrote that many children in the Church’s history saw the Eucharist as “a source of spiritual strength, sometimes even heroic strength!” He recalls “Saint Agnes, who lived in Rome; Saint Agatha, who was martyred in Sicily; Saint Tarcisius, a boy who is rightly called the ‘martyr of the Eucharist’ because he preferred to die rather than give up Jesus, whom he was carrying under the appearance of bread.”
Children are small. Their faith is powerful. Pope John Paul ll knew this, and toward the end of his letter the Holy Father exhorts the children to praise the name of the Lord. “O children of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and for evermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting may the name of the Lord be praised!” (Ps 112/113:1-3).
As you go forward this week, may our Lord reveal His closeness to you, and may you respond in childlike faith with praise and gratitude for all He has given you.
Yours in the Heart of Jesus,
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Right away, I knew the “glass house” you wrote of, as I used to volunteer at the Holy Family Shrine. For a total of 6 years, with a 3 year gap in between. It was a ‘weekly retreat’ for me. I met lovely people from all over the country and the world. I no long can be there, as I now live in Dallas, Texas instead of Omaha. I miss it so much. I miss Matt, my dear friend and care taker of the HFS, and true humble and hard working man. I was ‘there’ as you described on of my favorite places on earth. I could smell Nebraska, the fields and hear the breeze and more often, the Nebraska wind blow across them, carrying all the various smells of each season. A beautiful place of peace. I do hope to see it again perhaps this coming year. God willing.