Saturday, December 24, 2011

Josefina's First Theology Lesson

"Daddy, I'm afraid to go into the potty," said Josefina.

"Why, honey?"

"I don't want to be all by myself."

"But you're not all by yourself. I'm right out here, sweetie."

"I don't want to be alone in the potty."

Hmmm. Sometimes the kids 'keep her company.' But she can't always have company. I give her a hug and put my hands gently on her cheeks.

"You're not alone, Josefina. I'm right here. But you're never alone. Jesus and Mary are always with you. And your Guardian Angel. Your Guardian Angel is always right by your side, always paying attention to you and taking care of you."

"But I can't see them."

"You can't see them because they are in heaven with God. But that doesn't keep them from being very close to you."

Now here's the logic of a five year old: "Daddy, when you're in heaven, can I see you?"

I was a little spooked by that comment. God's will be done, but I think there is more work left for me to do on earth before that time comes around.

"Daddy's not in heaven yet, honey. I hope I will be one day, but I'm still on earth, and I pray that I will be here for a long time, so that I can help you to grow up."

. . . .

I want to help her grow up. I want to be here for each and all of them. I want to see them to the path of their vocations in life, and see the fruits of their vocations, and continue to support them, and console them in their sorrows. Eileen and I have so much to do together, to build up our love for each other so that it generates a home where God's call can be heard in the hearts of our children, and fostered to its maturity. And I want to grow old with Eileen, so that when age forces some measure of leisure upon us, we can sit and read poetry and literature together, and travel together to the places of our youth and see great works of beauty again. Of course, we'll never stop working. We have so many ideas for how we can work together.

Ideas and hopes and all things are in the hands of God. I offer everything to Jesus, trusting that He knows my heart and all my hopes and that He is creating the narrow but real path that we all must walk. I pray that I will be willing to surrender everything in that moment that He, in His infinite wisdom, knows is the right moment for me. When He calls, I pray that I might make that final and total entrustment. I pray that I might entrust everything to Him every day, every moment. Everything is in His heart, and belongs to His wisdom and love. In this moment that means I am in this world. And in this world, I must never give up.

There have been times, when I've been brooding in darkness, that I've thought of dying--not of killing myself, because I never forget that there is judgment after death--but just wanting it to end, so that I might go away and disappear. But then I remember the family. The family is there, like a grace, like a singular light, and I know that it is not yet time, and that I must continue to fight.

"You should pray too, that Daddy stays here on earth for a long time yet," I said. For all that my poor human mind can fathom, and that my own poor prayer can discern, I cannot help but think that there is much more work for me to do.

"Come with me to the potty," Josefina replied.

"No. I'll be right here. Remember, you are never alone. Your Guardian Angel is always right with you, and he protects you." We have always prayed to the angels with the children. When you have five children, you realize that the angels are very much involved in our lives, for the good--both great and small.

"But I can't see him," she said again.

I try a slightly different approach. "You can't see him because he's invisible," I said. "That means you can't see him, but you still know he's there."

Then I decided to throw a concept at her.

"The way you know this," I said, "is called faith."

And she looked at me with her big eyes.