Yesterday, as I celebrated Eucharist with the members of my religious community as well as friends and neighbors who regularly join us, I noticed a beautiful new family of five in the assembly. They were, I learned later, relatives of one of our sisters. The two “big sisters” were about five and eight years old and the little boy looked to be about two-and-a-half years old. All were very well behaved-well, until the little one began to get restless and tried entertaining his sisters. He was quieted with a big red apple that his Mom had tucked into her purse.
As the liturgy progressed and we entered into the Eucharist Prayer, I noticed that the parents and young girls were very focused on the movement of the liturgy. It became clear to me that this is a very devoted and faithful Catholic family, thoroughly engaged in the work of the people! It was inspiring. The little one, however, decided at the very moment of the institution narrative, that he would share his apple. “Take and eat,” said the presider, as the boy offered a bite of the apple to his mother. “Take and drink,” he continued, and Dad was offered a bite. “Do this in memory of me,” accompanied the child’s offerings to his sisters.
Unfolding before me was what seemed to be an orchestrated drama that had been designed to express the full meaning of Eucharist! Word, sacramental action, and apostolic witness were all taking place simultaneously in the midst of the community! For a brief time I was an apprentice to the little child who was leading me into the four pillars of the catechumenate articulated in paragraph 75 of the RCIA. It was a great way to begin Advent having heard the gospel’s admonition to “watch!” I watched this touching reminder of how being a eucharistic person goes far beyond the church doors and even the liturgy itself to the daily thanksgivings, self-givings and communions that take place when we reach out to nourish each other.
Happy Advent. Watch. There may be a child in your midst ready to lead you!