Welcome the Little Children

Welcome the Little Children

This Saturday we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord when Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to the Lord as was prescribed in the Jewish Law.  Both Anna and Simeon receive the Lord and see in him the fulfillment of their desire to see the Messiah. 

This story has encouraged me to ponder how we welcome all children.  I am mindful of St. Benedict’s instruction, quoted in the Characteristics of a Stewardship Parish, “Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ”.  I have experienced many ways children are welcomed with Generous Hospitality in our churches.  For instance, I remember one time after spending a hard hour with several rambunctious, unhappy and rather loud toddlers and preschoolers of my own, a woman sitting in front of us turned around and said, “It was such a blessing to have your family with us for Mass today.  Thank you for coming.”  That simple act was a great encouragement to me.  I am always grateful when priests make a special point to welcome families with small children and assure parents that their presence is welcome in the church.  Lastly, the visitor information card that has been placed in the pews at Our Lady of the Black Hills comes to mind.  On it they have this statement:

“To parents of young children:  RELAX!  God put the wiggle in children; don’t feel you have to suppress those wiggles in God’s house.  If you must leave with your child during the Mass, please be sure to come back!  We want both of you to be part of our church family celebration time.  Please encourage your child to sing, pray and join the spoken responses.  They can also worship by moving to the music or clapping.

To our Parishioners:  REMINDER, the way we welcome children in Church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, to Christ and to one another.  The presence of children is a gift to the Church and they are a reminder that our parish is growing.  A smile of encouragement is always welcome to parents with small, active children!”

As adults, we often times think of our role as teachers and leaders of children; sometimes we forget that they are given to us as a gift and there are many ways in which they teach and lead us as well.  In fact, this is by God’s design.  Children are one way God reaches down to us to lead us to Himself. We can be grateful for the gift of children in our day; for the beautiful way they witness to us the Joy of the Gospel and the how their enthusiasm, sense of wonder and willingness to live fully in the moment is truly the way we are all called to live.  Often, children remind us of truths we have forgotten.  This Sunday, and every Sunday, let’s lift our hearts to God in gratitude for the gift of the children in our midst and let us welcome them as Jesus was welcomed by Simeon and Anna in the Temple.  Let us be generous in our gratitude and in our hospitality to them and to their parents who accompany them.

 

 

 

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CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

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2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

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VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr
(605) 209-3418

With Hospitality, the Small Details Matter

With Hospitality, the Small Details Matter

Bishop Gruss has often observed that as we strive to live lives of Generous Hospitality, the details matter.  Attentiveness to small details is an important aspect of hospitality.

In August, my daughter and daughter-in-law attended a day and a half retreat hosted by the organization Blessed Is She. One of the things they shared with me was that those organizing the event had partnered with a company that sells beauty products and the company had put together baskets for each bathroom containing small bottles of their lotion, soap and perfume.  In addition, they added breath mints, Tylenol and Tums, purse-sized packages of Kleenex, feminine products, diapers and wipes.

My girls were impressed by this extra touch of hospitality.  The expensive lotion and other items conveyed, in a practical and concrete way, the organizers desire to pamper their guests.  The diapers and wipes were a special welcome to the many nursing mothers who had infants with them for the event.

Perhaps it isn’t always practical to have such a basket in our parish bathrooms, but it does cause me to wonder:  have we taken a look at our bathrooms and other small, easily ignored spaces in our parishes?  Do they welcome our parishioners?  Is there something extra we can do to make those spaces welcoming?

Thinking about these welcome baskets also encouraged me to think about how family-friendly our churches are.  Is it easy to bring infants to church and take care of them there? Intentionally making our churches welcoming to small children, infants and those that care for them is a practical way to live out our pro-life commitment and is a great thing to think about during the month of October when we celebrate Respect Life Sunday.

Sometimes small things make a big impression.  For instance, I have been very impressed by the umbrellas I have seen at several of our parishes. Although we don’t get tremendous amounts of rain here, what a beautiful act of hospitality it is to have someone walk a guest to their car with an umbrella during a rainstorm.  I am sure
there are many other small ways we can practice hospitality.  What ideas do you have or have you implemented in your parish?

We’re here to help

Call us at (605) 716-5214 or fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch soon.

 

14 + 1 =

CHANCERY OFFICE

606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 343-3541

CHANCERY ANNEX AT TERRA SANCTA

2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702
(605) 716-5214

TERRA SANCTA RETREAT CENTER

2101 City Springs Rd, Ste 300
Rapid City , SD 57702
(605) 716-0925
stay@terrasancta.org

SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Click here to learn more

VICTIM ASSISTANCE COORDINATOR

Barbara Scherr (605) 209-3418

Generous Hospitality Comes First

Several weeks ago, I heard this story about a young family who is desperately trying to get more involved in the life of their parish community in New Orleans. The story goes something like this, and as you read it, keep in mind the saying: three strikes and you’re out.

            The parish was advertising that they needed more adorers for perpetual adoration. She and her husband prayed to the Lord about answering this invitation. In the end, they felt like the Lord was inviting them to say yes. So they decided to accept the invitation from the pastor and were really quite excited to be spending time with the Lord in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. When she called the parish secretary to sign up for an hour of adoration each week from 6:00 PM to 7 PM, the secretary found out that this young mother would be bringing her eight-month-old with her. The parish secretary said that would not be possible for her to sign up because they don’t allow young infants or toddlers during the hours of perpetual adoration because they do not want to disturb the silence of others praying in front of the Lord. Strike one.

            This really caught them off guard and they were quite hurt by it all, which made them even more hesitant to offer their help to the parish again. However, several months later another opportunity in the parish arose. They were looking for people to help clean the church. Again she and her husband prayed about it and felt the Lord was inviting them to say yes. So she called the parish again saying that she and her four-year-old boy would be willing to help clean the church. She told the parish secretary that my four-year-old loves to dust. The parish secretary said that she could not volunteer because the parish does not allow young children to clean the church even with parent’s supervision. Strike two.

                When I heard this story, I was shocked by such inhospitality.  The story of how Jesus related to the children in the Gospels came rushing to the forefront of my heart. People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16)

            What do you think about the latest statistics: 6.5 people leave Catholicism for every 1 that joins, 50% of young people who are raised Catholic are no longer Catholic today, 79% of former Catholics leave the church before age of 23? I wonder if we are losing our people, especially our young people and young families, because of a lack of hospitality and an unwillingness to welcome all into our midst.

            Our diocesan stewardship initiative began first with generous hospitality. We need to get this piece right before we can begin to invite people into lively faith and dedicated discipleship.

Fr. Mark’s Musings