Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Kneeling before the Sacred
By Tim Drake
Just minutes before the consecration, our 6-month-old daughter filled her pants.
It was Thursday and we were at daily Mass. It would have been hard not to notice us. We were the only parishioners at Mass who were younger than 40, and our family of six made up exactly 25 percent of the total parishioners.
So, when our daughter began loudly filling her diaper it was only slightly embarrassing. After all, these people see and HEAR us every day. They’re used to it. It was just another instance of walking out of Mass to attend to a dirty, crying, or misbehaving child.
Knowing my daughter’s propensity for soiling through all of her garments I quickly escorted her, diaper bag in hand, to the floor in the children’s play area to change her diaper. Nothing could have prepared me for the task I was to face at 5 minutes to 9 on this particular morning.
The outside of the diaper was soiled. The onesie was dirty. It was on the changing pad. It was on her legs. It was impossible to change her without getting it elsewhere.
The cleaning and disinfectant process was a long ordeal and I missed the majority of the consecration, but I also learned some things in the process.
So often, as I parent, I find myself asking, “Why me, why this, why now?” frustrated by my children’s timing. Yet, even in the midst of a dirty diaper I mustered a smile and laughed as much as I could about the predicament that I found myself in. This was my place. This was my duty. At this particular point and place in time I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was doing God’s will. And sometimes God’s will is messy. Sometimes your hands get dirty. Sometimes it even stinks.
As I cleaned my daughter I could not help but think of Mother Teresa and the Missionaries of Charity. Thoughts of them cleaning people’s wounds, washing people’s feet, and changing soiled linens came to mind. Such work requires great humility and even greater love. As Mother Teresa has said, “It is not what is done that is important, but that it is done with great love.”
And as I listened to the priest’s final words of consecration over the loudspeaker and buttoned up my daughter’s clothing I also realized something else. While I had missed the consecration, I still held something in common with those in the Church. I, too, was kneeling.
And for all my griping about my daughter’s timing, it turned out to be just perfect. Wearing a new diaper, minus her onesie, I carried my daughter back into Church just in time to receive Christ in the Eucharist.
My own communion with the Lord had not been hampered by performing my fatherly duties. If anything, I was now more in union with Christ than I was before.
© 2003, Tim Drake writes from St. Cloud, Minnesota.
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