Soul food

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Monday was All Souls Day. It follows All Saints Day, and commemorates the faithful departed–those who die in God’s faith and friendship. At our parish, it is always marked by a mass and simple reception. Family of parishioners who died during the year are invited as well as anyone from the parish who may want to attend. It’s solemn and beautiful. I was fortunate to be asked to sing at the mass. Along with Holy Thursday, it’s really my favorite.

In addition to my participation, about a month or so ago, our pastor asked if I would bring the baby. He wanted to use him as a “prop” during the homily. I agreed, but with the disclaimer that I could not make any guarantees regarding the level of cooperation of my six-month-old son. Actually, the exchange was more like, “Are you sure you know what you’re asking?” He assured me he did, and that he could roll with it. And I knew he could, so I said, “Okay.”

My parents sat with the baby during mass, since I was in front singing and Richard was teaching religious education. My dad’s magic touch made Clifford very relaxed, and when it was time to hand him off to Monsignor, the baby just nuzzled and got cozy.

Monsignor stood in his white vestments and gave his entire homily holding our son, who comfortably nuzzled securely in his arms. Monsignor reminded all of the many sad people in the congregation that they should find peace knowing that their loved one is being held by God, much like he was holding Clifford. To help you understand the visual impact, you should know that our pastor stands just shy of 6’8″. His large hand covers almost all of the baby’s back. It was easy to picture God’s strength and loving care.

His homily was comforting and wonderful; the baby remained so calm and pretty much moved on cue. It seemed he was responding to what was being said. At one point, when Monsignor mentioned heaven, Clifford even looked up and all around at the ceiling of the church. He also seemed completely unfazed by the hundreds of people in attendance. Occasionally looking out at the people, then back at his tall protector, then at me. I was afraid that he would see me and cry, but he didn’t. He did just what God needed him to do in that moment.

A day after the mass, I received this note from a dear friend from church

I am still in awe of what we all witnessed at the Memorial mass. I know a lot of others are too. I’m sure there were many in the church who, in their grief, have doubted God’s real presence with us. If Fr. Mike’s and Clifford’s homily did not dispel those doubts, I don’t know what could. I felt His presence so strongly I wanted to shout it to the rooftop!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful son. ( I want to say that he could be a great actor someday, but I have a feeling God has something better in store for him!)

It has always been my wish for all of my children that God use each one for the purpose for which He intended and created them. I just often foolishly think of it in terms of them when they grow up. Thanks to our dear pastor, the Holy Spirit and my  bouncing baby boy, my eyes have been opened … once again.

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