Sunday, February 22, 2009


It is common for entire families to wish they could concentrate more when in prayer or during Mass, and mainly at the time of the Consecration and when having Holy Communion. I want to share our family experience, and the very unique way in which Jesus' presence became so ardently vivid, so strongly felt, so compellingly near all of us precisely when we were the least able to fully concentrate in our prayers or even when, I must admit, we used to get totally distracted from the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

During the first couple of months after Thomas and Nicholas' arrival, attending Mass with them used to be a dreadful, or, rather, dreaded experience. They would move around, shout, cry, and throw temper tantrums. They would regard the pews as extended playground equipment, and Nicholas would use the Missals and song books as blocks or Legos to stack up in piles. Striving for more and more attention from us, they would do anything to keep our minds and our five senses focused only, solely, exclusively on them--frequently making us totally unable to follow the liturgy at all.

Every imaginable disaster would happen, precisely, during Mass. A pile of books would come towering down with a crash. Something would fall out of my purse with a crack. A boy would somersault over the back of the pew with a bump--and even, if there were some unlucky fellow parishioners sitting in front, onto them with a thump. Or you could hear the russle of clothes as the twins would have to use all their might to keep the little transgressor in place when almost over onto the other side.

Several priests had told us that there was no need to worry and no need to leave--even if things got a little out of control. After all, that's exactly what Jesus had said, "Let the children come to Me." We were surprised to be met with smiles, offers to help, and words of praise instead of icy glances, unintelligle whispers, angry comments, or upset expressions. Most of all, lots of people would express their admiration at the love, dedication, devotion that Catherine and the twins showed towards their two younger brothers.

The time of the Consecration was the one we feared the most. Seeing everyone go down on their knees with their heads bent and their eyes closed was something that Thomas and Nicholas found unsual, intriguing, and, I guess, disturbing. More than once I found Thomas' little finger trying to pull my eyelids open--not to bother me, but to make sure that Mommy was all right.

It was at that moment when the priest pronounces Jesus' words and in his hands the bread becomes Flesh and the wine becomes Blood, at that moment when Jesus gives Himself up for us again and again, when we would recongnize better than ever the peace and quiet that can still be felt amidst movement, agitation, and noise. It was the peace and quiet that comes with love, caring, togetherness, and joy. We would feel small arms around our shoulders and small cheeks pressing against our cheeks. We would feel their sense of safety, security, and self-importance now that they were with us, as members of our family forever. In the indescribable love and devotion shown by Catherine and the twins towards their younger brothers I would feel even more dramatically, more vividly, more patently the Love of the One Who had wanted to die an excruciatingly painful death for all of us and Who was dying again for us at every Mass, to make us stronger and healthier.

Jesus is there everytime that, instead of looking at the other side and pretending not to notice, Catherine, Gerard, and Warren simultaneously volunteer to clear up a mess. Jesus is there when they spend inordinate amounts of time teaching their younger brothers about Him or about anything else. We did feel Jesus' presence right next to us one day when we were coming out of Mass and witnessed something that suspended us in time: after Warren had made the Sign of the Cross on Nicholas, Nicholas dipped his fingers in holy water and made the Sign of the Cross on Warren in return. We do feel Jesus' presence when we get covered with hugs and kisses. We do feel Jesus' presence when we cannot type on the computer because a little someone expects us to do it with one arm around a pair of little shoulders and still be able to reach the keyboard all the same. Yes, at that critical moment when the Transubstantiation takes place at every Mass, there may be a little noise or a little movement--but there is also warmth, love, togetherness, and peace. There are also two small boys squeezing themselves against us. There is also trust, safety, bonding, and cohesiveness. In other words, there is everything that makes up a family. There are also dreams come true. There are also shared prayers answered. There are also smiling faces all around, and there are no complaints when someone gets slightly distracted because of some not very melodious yet still precious sound. In summary, there is definitely every reason to feel Jesus' real presence in the Eucharist maybe with not so much with concentration, but with faith, love, fervor, and absolutely no doubts.

Update as of late 2009. Now, as time goes by, Thomas and Nicholas behave increasingly well all throughout the whole Mass. There is no more crying, shouting, or maladaptive behavior. There are no more temper tantrums. Only one problem remains, though. After several months, I encouraged Gerard and Warren to go back to doing altar service, which they had been doing since their First Holy Communion and really loved. Nowadyas, the Saturdays when Warren are Gerard serve are the only times when Nicholas gives me a little hard time--because he cannot tolerate being separated from his older brothers. He wants to be at the altar---not in order to have everyone's look upon him, but simply to be with Warren and Gerard. Frequently, when the twins serve, Catherine takes him to the park or to the mall, and my mom and I attend Mass with Thomas--and Catherine goes to Mass the next day. Yet, let's not forget that initially their whole behavior during the entire Mass seemed unmanageable, and now it's not. For sure, as time goes by, this remaining little problem will be fixed as well.

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