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For Your Marriage

Dennis and Mary Jo Weiss have been married for more than 30 years. They write about a shared love of nature, prayer, and their children and grandchildren from their home in Hamburg, New York.

Little Bodies of Christ

One of my favorite parts of the Mass is right after Communion. It is a special time of personal intimacy with Christ, amidst the communal worship of our God.

I like to return to my pew, and as I close my eyes, the sound of the Eucharistic Ministers repeating, “The Body of Christ” becomes like a heartbeat in the background – soft, steady and strong – guiding and shaping my thoughts and reflections. Lately, my reflections have been on the gift of children.

“The Body of Christ.”

I thank Him for making me a wife and a mother, for it has been in the living of these two vocations that I have felt His constant and steady presence guiding me and calling me to something greater. Both roles have demanded a deep reach inside for the strength to fulfill the responsibility of souls placed in my care. I ask His forgiveness for times I have failed.

“The Body of Christ.”

I think of the children I have treated in the past in my work as an occupational therapist. Sometimes their small bodies were broken in some way, and yet a deep and inherent dignity shone from their eyes, and humbled me in its sacredness.

“The Body of Christ.”

I remember having a moment when I was a new mother, and wondering if this is why I went to college as I changed yet another soiled diaper.

And shortly after, I realized because of that still, small voice within, that like St. John the Baptist feeling unworthy to unfasten the sandal strap of Our Lord, I was barely worthy of such an honor as caring for my child.

“The Body of Christ.”

I think of our five children, and the incredible joy raising them has brought into my life. I remember carefree summer days spent with them. Or Dennis and I taking them to our favorite park after dinner to let them gleefully roll down the long hill, only to run back up and do it once again.

“The Body of Christ.”

I recall the story from Scripture, where Jesus places a child in the midst of the crowd as the disciples argued who was greatest in the Kingdom, and how He challenged them to become like little children.

It has been Dennis’ and my experience that raising children is a vocation unlike any other, but there is little in our lives that would compare to its importance or impact upon us. Every so often a news story will appear with the projected cost of raising a child, as if to forewarn prospective parents! Children do come with a price – that of a total change in our perspective of what really matters in life.

Children form us. They do not thwart or delay our dreams; they rightly order them. They will pull at our heart strings, and show us the beauty of creation if we take the time to enter their world. And through discipline, they must learn their place in ours.

Our culture has lost the sense of the sacredness of the child. These “little bodies of Christ” do not belong to us. They are not our right; they are sublime gift, and our task as parents is monumental. We must gift them with their heritage of faith – to become citizens of heaven – while making them good citizens on earth.

And He will show us the way if we ask Him.