This story was originally posted on my aeternus.stblogs blog last May….
My daughter is the girl who does not run with the crowd. At 7 years old she is not fascinated with “Hanna Montana” and could care less about “American Girl” or “fashion” or the “Disney Channel” like the rest of her little friends. Of course, this makes me very happy.
When this little one gets home from school her most favorite thing to do in the world is go out front in our yard to play on her big tree swing. She will be there for hours entertaining herself by admiring nature and singing to it. And when I say sing, I really mean sing. She does NOT stop. I am thankful that we live on a hidden little Lane with zero traffic. If not, she would obviously have become the city curiosity by now!
In any case, she is just lovely in her little solitudes of song. I love to be making dinner in the late afternoon while being entertained by her musical performance. I look out the window while cutting up some vegetables and smile at her and her little companion – our dog Obi (she's a Jedi dog you know!).
In short, this is a genuine little girl. Not a wannabe teen and not a distracted child who's every over scheduled moment in life is booked from now until death. One might imagine that this girl who spends quite a bit of time in her own imaginary world among the trees and squirrels would be one to not partake in the social activity of school, but by thinking that you would be incorrect. As content as she is, it must be some sort of attraction to the other girls for they flock to her like bees to honey and she is a glad to be with their company as she is to be alone in her own solitude.
So this is the girl we are talking about who was preparing for her First Communion last week. She is a girl with a couple of ants in her pants when it comes to mass (age seven and some figets are inevitable) but she comes with a understanding of the mass which is quite beautiful. As we studied the catechism together over the past few months (the old St. Joseph's edition of the Baltimore Catechism is wonderful!) she began to see things in a new way. She already has a great fondness for Saint Therese of Lisieux and I caught her reading her “St. Therese Autobigoraphical comic book” many times lately. I was happy to see that Therese too was playing a part in our little girl's preparation.
To be honest, I try to never pester our little girl or try to get her to talk about spiritual things but rather like to wait for the thoughts and occasions to come from her. Casually, over time, as I was trying to prepare her for the Eucharist, there were these amazing little moments which were like the white fluffy happiness of a dandelion seed floating through the air in a gentle breeze. This child would speak beautiful little whisperings from her young lips and from her soul which would float around in the air to land square between the muscles of a mother's heart. Every word of these musings was filled with the Holy Spirit and how I would have to hold back tears sometimes at the beauty of her words. In these moments I was sure that our dear Lord was shedding these tears in joy for me!
As the “big day” was approaching, there was much occasioning in the classroom at school in preparation for the Eucharist. The children were quite practiced in processing into the chapel (at snail pace) and they had had a “taste” of some wine and a bit of bread and had even drawn a life size banner representing the Last Supper which was attached over the doorway of the chapel. Our little girl drew St. Andrew at the Last Supper and gave him lots of freckles because another little boy she admires has such a face! At home we had been ready for First Communion in our hearts a little more quickly than we had managed to collect the proper First Communion “attire” of a dress, veil, gloves, shoes, etc. There was a little rush at the end, but all was quite well. It seemed all would continue to be well when she came home from school crying one day.
“They won't let us wear gloves or a veil Mommy!!!”
I tried not to show my dismay, but I was upset too. I could not imagine why a Catholic School would not want their beautiful little girls to wear veils? Is it so outdated a custom? Are we suppose to throw away our heritage so quickly? Will these girls grow up and be married without veils too? Did our Holy Mother not wear a veil 24/7? Is humility of a women so defunct a modern action?
I tried to lie low for a few days hoping the situation would resolve itself so I would not have to go into school and make a fuss with the faculty. Then the next day she came home to say:
“Mommy, they want us to receive Jesus in our hands and not on our lips! I don't want to have my first communion at school, I want to do it at Carmel with the Sisters and Saint Therese!”
This was just too much for me. I could not stand to see her so distraught. She would not find consolation in my words so I marched her and myself up the hill to Carmel for a pow wow with the Extern Sister who is our friend.
Words of wisdom flew from dear Sister's mouth as she made it clear and precise to our girl that she must offer these things (the veil, gloves, communion in hand, etc.) to Jesus as a sacrifice. Sister expertly explained to this Innocent that He knew what she wished and how she loved Him. Sister beautifully navigated this little one's troubled thoughts and worries and disarmed each of her fears and sadnesses. In a final aplomb she said, “you must go and take your First Communion with Jesus with your schoolmates on Saturday afternoon and do it just the way your teachers want. Then on Sunday morning you wake up early and put your dress back on, this time with your veil and gloves and come up to Carmel with your Mommy and Daddy and have a Second Communion with Jesus here with the Sisters and St. Therese”
I was astounded by the goodness of dear Sister. She was wonderful. Our little girl was so very happy and her soul was filled with happiness. Our plan was set, all worries were gone and nothing was to be done but anticipate the happiness to come. The Carmelite wisdom of “suffering in silence” was pure beauty.
So the big day was almost here, but first we had to get to sleep that night! Getting to sleep seemed to be a bit of a trial. Our dear girl was just so excited that she had the greatest of trouble falling asleep. I usually sit with her after her prayers until she drifts off, but this night was a little more difficult. She would have her eyes closed and just about to fade off when the eyes would pop back open to say something more to me. This happened a half dozen times before I was certain she would finally be at peace. Her breathing became bigger, and her little hand grasped mine in reflex before her eyes popped back open again. I think she was asleep, or at least not quite awake, when she muttered the most profound little sentence to me. I want to so much share this little speech of hers, but I have locked its beauty away in my heart to be kept in a safe place for eternity. I will say that these words were truly, truly beautiful with an understanding of the Eucharist which could only come from the purest soul of a child.
It was a lucky thing my Mother came to visit us from Pennsylvania for she was so very good in helping iron out any wrinkles which may have accumulated on the communion dress and made sure her shoes were shiny and bright. When we started to leave the house our little girl asked if she could just take her veil in the car with us. Of course I said. When we got to the school chapel a photographer was there taking pictures. Upon seeing this we agreed that she could be photographed with her veil on and so my husband dutifully ran out to the car to retrieve it. When we placed it on her head our girl looked so beautiful and her happy smile filled the room. She seemed to beam so brightly that I could not dare ask her to take the veil off (so much for suffering in a Carmelite silence!) I looked across the room to see the School Principal and walked over to her. I said as nicely as I possibly could, “please, you would not ask her to take off her veil, she is so happy in it”. The Principal aghast replied, “Oh no, I am not the veil police. Of course she can wear it. Is there some reason she should not! She looks beautiful in it!”
Now, I ask you, dear reader, is there some reason I should not have trusted all along that heaven would not intercede on the part of a young soul who it loves so very much! Shame on any doubt I may have had!
I will not say too much more about the ceremony. It was beautiful. The children processed into chapel with grace and reverence (at their practiced great and amazing snail's pace) and I am sure they were an inspiration to all in attendance. At the proper time of the mass the Eucharist was given to these handsome young souls and the Holy Spirit was swiftly flying throughout this holy persuasion.
When mass was over we gathered for a few pictures as we took our time to leave the chapel. I don't think any of us wanted for the occasion to be over and our dear girl only complained that the mass seemed to last only 5 minutes. As we were finished and perhaps some of the last left in the building, we started to walk down the hallway of the school towards the statue of Mater Admirabilis (our school's most favorite Mother and a model for the religious of the Sacred Heart of our school) for one more photograph. There were no other people in the hallway but our family when a small little call came from beyond for our dear girl. It was the Principal calling her name. She drew close to our girl and presented her with a wrist corsage of white roses.
O.K. now, WHOA! Did I just say white roses?!!
Mother and daughter (in front of Our Lady mind you) stop dead in their tracks with open mouths of wonderful joy and an amazing look of knowing passes between the both of us. I ask you again, dear reader, is there some reason I should not have trusted that our dear Saint Therese would not be with us on this day?!! As our dear Therese has said ” I wish to pass my Heaven in doing good on earth,” and also “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.”
I do hope gentle reader, that you have had a chill of holy hope run through your veins learning about yet another little miracle sent down to earth from above!
As this is perhaps my LONGEST blog entry ever, I feel I had better wrap it up. The story ends with a “Second Communion” early Sunday morning at the Carmelite chapel. Our dear Carmelite sister's were so gracious and good to our girl. Perhaps they could not contain their happiness at seeing this little one in her white dress and veil sitting up the front of the chapel chaperoned by her family and our super hero Extern Sister. There were a couple of smiles and perhaps a few little winks and waves between the Sister's choir stalls and our dear little girl. The Sister's mentioned our girl in the Petitions of the Mass and prayed for ALL those young souls who would be meeting Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist this Easter-springtime.
I am so thankful to these wonderful Carmelites who live a life of seclusion interceding to our God on behalf of the world. They give up their every desire to unite themselves completely to Christ their Bridegroom. Their prayers and self-mortification no doubt steadies the hand of Divine Justice and this selfless homage of their own souls goes unnoticed and un-thanked by millions and millions of other souls. From my heart I thank them for everything they do. God reward their goodness and kindess.
Praise be Jesus Christ, Now and Forever!