By Fr. James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Bob Hope said, “I grew up with six brothers. That’s how I learned to dance, as I waited to get into the bathroom.”
There’ll be a lot of dancing and well-wishing as we welcome the new year. As we begin 2018 we have much to be thankful for. We thank so many people who have helped us in many different ways to be a vibrant parish.
I am thankful for Charlene’s 911 phone call to report a church fire. I am thankful for Sunday night as we returned to our worship space, the church, to celebrate Christmas Eve Mass. And we can be thankful for one another.
Let us hear the story of a thankful mother. She writes about her GOLD, COMMON SENSE, AND FUR experience.
My husband and I had been happily (most of the time) married for five years, but hadn’t been blessed with a baby. I decided to do some serious praying and promised God that if he would give us a child, I would be a perfect mother, love it with all my hear, and raise it with His word as my guide.
God answered my prayers and blessed us with a son. The next year God blessed us with another son. The following year, he blessed us with yet another son. The year after that we were blessed with a daughter.
My husband thought we’d been blessed right into poverty. We now had four children, and the oldest was only four years old. I learned never to ask God for anything unless I meant it. As a minister once told me, “If you pray for rain, make sure you carry an umbrella.”
I began reading a few verses of the Bible to the children each day as they lay in their cribs. I was off to a good start. God had entrusted me with four children and I didn’t want to disappoint Him.
I tried to be patient the day the children smashed two dozen eggs on the kitchen floor searching for baby chicks. I tried to be understanding when they started a hotel for homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours to catch all twenty-three frogs.
When my daughter poured ketchup all over herself and rolled up in a blanket to see how it felt to be a hot dog, I tried to see the humor rather than the mess.
In spite of changing over 25 thousand diapers, never eating a hot meal and never sleeping more than thirty minutes at a time, I still thank God daily for my children.
While I couldn’t keep my promise to be a perfect mother – I didn’t even come close – I did keep my promise to raise them in the Word of God. I knew I was missing the mark just a little when I told my daughter we were going to church to worship God, and she wanted to bring a bar of soap along to “wash up” Jesus too.
Something was lost in the translation when I explained that God gave us everlasting life, and my son thought it was generous of God to give us his “last wife.”
My product moment came during the Children’s Christmas Pageant. My daughter was playing Mary, two of my sons were shepherds, and my youngest son was a wise man. This was their moment to shine.
My five year old shepherd has practiced his line, “We found the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.” But he was nervous and said, “The baby was wrapped in wrinkled clothes.”
My four year old “Mary” said “That’s not ‘wrinkled clothes,’ silly. That’s dirty rotten clothes.”
A wrestling match broke out between Mary and the shepherd and was stopped by an angel, who bent her halo and lost her left wing.
I slouched a little lower in my seat when Mary dropped the doll representing Baby Jesus, and it bounced down the aisle crying “Mamma-mamma.” Mary grabbed the doll, wrapped it back up and held it tightly as the wise men arrived.
My other son stepped forward wearing a bathrobe and a paper crown, knelt at the manger and announced “We are the three wise men, and we are bringing gifts of gold, common sense and fur.”
The congregation dissolved into laughter and the pageant got a standing ovation. “I’ve never enjoyed a Christmas program as much as this one.” Father Brian laughed, wiping tears from his eyes. “For the rest of my life, I’ll never hear the Christmas story without thinking of gold, common sense, and fur.”
“My children are my pride and my joy and my greatest blessing.” I said as I dug through my purse for an aspirin.
Have a happy and a blessed New Year.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.