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Winter holidays... pay it forward

Road closures abound, so I'm glad we didn't plan to go north. Desert Road closed. So, Day One, saw Steve off to work, went back to sleep for an hour. We all got up at eight, made breakfast, did a few chores. Just before ten we dropped Asher off at Lyall Bay in a howling, freezing wet southerly for 14th Grade Rep soccer trials *shudder* then Christy and I headed to town to get Finn an amp for his electric violin. We found one at the Rock Shop but they couldn't find the lead for it. So I bought some flash new guitar picks and dropped Christy off to Broadmeadows to see some friends. Came back in time to save Asher from hypothermia and we made lunch. Ash put on the split screen so he could play xBox soccer and I watched Oprah, something I hadn't seen for years. She had given her audience $1000 to 'pay it forward' and it was a feedback session, showing the amazing things people had done with the money. It was quite moving, the willingness of people to help others and the emotions of the recipients, and of the givers. I made Malaysian food for dinner, beef rendang, roti chanai and pad whatever noodles. Very nice. Still really cold here, a wild wind roaring around the house. Today, too, I wrote a story...

The Little Girl Who Wanted to be a Catholic
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose parents sent her to the Catholic school. Her grandmother had been a Catholic but her parents were raised in other Christian faiths. Still, these days they weren't practising in those faiths, so they were happy to send their little girl to the Catholic school where they knew she'd get a great education.

What took them by surprise was the evangelisation. The mum got involved in the usual activities at the school during the next few years, fundraising for the school fair, going on class trips, helping out in the classroom, but she also attended the school Masses and liturgies, and the amazing parish priest became a rock in their lives. He was like Jesus, welcoming to strangers, open to people of other faiths, kind, considerate and compassionate.

Things were so moving at the school, and within the parish, that one of the teachers had become a Catholic.

By the time the little girl was in Year 4, with that very teacher, it was time for the Year 4 children to receive three sacraments, Reconciliation, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. It had become a tradition in the parish that if a school child wished to become a Catholic, with their parents' blessing, the priest would get the whole class to come over to the church, with the parents, godparents and relations, and have a simple but very moving Baptismal ceremony before the preparation for Reconciliation began. There were children in Catholic colleges who were baptised this way in front of their peers at primary school.

This little girl decided she was ready for Baptism. Her parents were excited, and were thinking about being baptised the following year as well. However, things were not right in the state of the parish. The priest had been shifted away, and another priest came along, a scribe, who cared about rules… a LOT. This priest came to the first parents' meeting and told the mother that she was a problem. He said her daughter couldn't get baptised because neither parent was Catholic. The mother was upset so the catechist waited until the priest had left then reassured her that it was okay, they'd sort it out.

However, the priest dug in his toes. How did we think a young child could choose to be baptised? She could wait until she's at high school. Indicative of the Church's slippery grip on the heart of the people, the priest made a really poor choice. He turned down a child who wanted the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? Because, he said, she might fail. Her family might fail. He knew, after all. He had wisdom.

He didn't talk to the little girl.

The catechist wrote letters explaining that if one has a faith, then even if one fails, one can come back to it one day. That's what the other priest had always said. The catechist pointed out that Jesus' own disciples made quite a few glaring errors but were still chosen as leaders of the Church. The catechist asked for lenience and tolerance and that a little sprinkling of Jesus be added to the attitude of the Bishop and the priest. The catechist was relentless so the Bishop asked the catechist to stop writing to him. He was too busy to deal with little parish matters like someone wanting to join the Church. So the catechist went to church and watched the priest each Sunday and cried so often that another parishioner brought a box of tissues along to Mass.

The little girl was so sad. She had made a little altar for prayers at home, as her catechist had suggested on the first night of lessons. Her mother broke the news to her that she couldn't receive the sacraments like her classmates. The mother became a little tearful and the little girl comforted her, 'Don't cry, Mummy, it's okay. But can we still pray?'

She made a beautiful cross out of mosaic paper and gave it to the catechist as a thankyou for her trouble. The catechist cried again and stuck it above her desk at work.

The little girl and her parents didn't really want to attend that church any more. They felt rejected. They are thinking of looking for another church one day where people love, just as Jesus asked us to.

And the classroom teacher? He couldn't help because… he'd gone off to train to be a priest.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 7th, 2008 12:14 pm (UTC)
I had put the pieces of this story together from your other posts, but it is nice to be able to read it as a whole. It really seems as is the family and little girl were made to feel unwanted. I know this has been a source of emotional pain for you. It must be very frustrating to watch the girl's disappointment and family's rejection by the Bishop and priest.
Jul. 7th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
Thanks, honey *hugs you back* it's been a rough time for the whole parish, but now I can express the whole thing in writing, I actually feel better *g* and can move on. And there were really three of us campaigning to the priest and bishop, but the story sounded better with one!
Moving on... but what happens when another kid in the school wants to get baptised? Grrrrr.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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