The Office of Stewardship
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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606 Cathedral Drive
Rapid City, SD 57701
2101 City Springs Rd Ste 200
Rapid City, SD 57702