There is a statue of the Blessed Mother in the cemetery where Will is buried. My daughter Katy is quite taken with it. We have to visit Mary, and the statue of Jesus though she is not as enamored of it, every time we go. Earlier last week, she noticed that Mary was stepping on a snake. Crushing it really beneath her bare feet. When she asked me why I explained (correctly I hope) that the snake represented all the evil of the world and that Mary was stomping it out. Katy considered this for a few moments before remarking, “Poor snake.”
The child’s take on religion is always interesting and sometimes insightful. I remember when I was preparing to receive my first communion that I was terrified of chewing the host because I took the “became flesh” thing quite literally and was worried about what the outcome of “biting” Jesus might be. Consequently I was always having to stick a finger in my mouth to dislodge a dry stuck wafer.
My nephew, Luke referred to the priest as “the King” when he was younger because of the vestments that priests wear for mass, and so naturally the church became a castle. Katy began to point out “castles” as a result of her cousin’s influence, and she still calls stained glass windows “Jesus glass” wherever it is.
My sister and Luke attended the Saturday night mass with her brother and sister-in-law’s family this past weekend in Webster City. As many Catholic churches now do, there is a children’s nursery provided for parents with children too young to sit through a whole mass. My dad rolls his eyes when he hears about this. Even if there had been such a thing when we kids were young, he would never have availed himself of it. He can remember hours of church time, in Latin no less, and his old school ways wouldn’t have permitted such coddling of his children. Catholicism is learned on one’s knees primarily and over many hours. Luke and his cousin, Noah, decided to slip out of the nursery and explore the nearby hallways which led to the discovery of a cabinet with writing on it, and Jesus locked inside. How they came to the conclusion that the son of God was trapped in a cabinet in the basement of a church in Iowa is open to speculation because even after listening to a rather breathless explanation from the two I am uncertain still, but it will have to remain a mystery as something in the cabinet (Jesus no doubt) began banging on the door to be let out sending the two boys running for the stairs to find their parents. Although my sister and Phil and Kim seemed amused by the incident, no one volunteered any further information about what might have actually happened or who, if anyone, went to investigate?
While we were strolling through the cemetery after visiting Mary and posing for the photo-op, Katy noticed another grave with a smaller statue of Mary and another statue that she assumed was Jesus. We wandered over to investigate as I thought it might have been St. Joseph, Mary’s spouse, but it turned out to be St. Francis of Assisi (the birds give it away if you fail to recognize the Franciscan bowl haircut). I seldom think much about my knowledge of what amounts to trivia about Catholicism, but I did note my dear love’s bemused expression. Though his mother is Catholic, his father vetoed the idea of raising him or his siblings in any belief system. I find it interesting that nearly everyone who I know who have been raised in such a manner (and this is admittedly a small number) have turned out to be some of the kindest and most accepting people I have ever met.
Our brushes with Catholicism, or any “church”, remind me that I need to began consolidating my thoughts on the subject of the universe and its creator. Sigh, as if I didn’t have enough to do these days.