Thursday, January 28, 2010

For the Spiritual Life of Children

One of my sisters’ children saw an angel in his backyard a dozen years ago, when he was five or six. I lived a thousand miles away and seldom saw my nephew, but I fully believed my sister’s account. I hadn’t thought of this for years—until yesterday afternoon in my religious education class. For the third time in two months, I was confronted with the spirituality of children. If one of my fourth-graders had begun describing an angel in his or her backyard, I would have stopped everything to listen.

I have been living under a complete misconception about these kids. I have imagined that they are all but unruly, that I have to muster up every ounce of energy and vocal authority just to keep them quiet. It’s a defensive reaction, I know, and comes with a sense of powerlessness. It turns out that all the power is the Lord’s; all I have to do is ask the kids to bring a rosary to class.

I should have learned my lesson when I took these sixteen ten-year-olds to confession in early December. Or when, with the help of my pal Ferde, I took them to Eucharistic Adoration a week later. On both occasions, as you can read in the linked posts, a deep silence and an openness settled over the group.

For yesterday’s class, I asked them to bring rosaries. All but three remembered, and one boy, M., my little seminarian in training, brought extras without being asked. For 30 minutes I set the table, talking on about the Blessed Mother, while the kids commoted. Then I asked them to get out their rosaries. Instantly, their fingers found the beads and their lips went silent.

A reader of this blog suggested that I read The Spiritual Life of Children by Robert Coles. I bought it in early January; last night, I got it out and began reading in earnest.

I would like each of my fourth-graders to see a video recently posted by The Clay Rosary Girl, and I may show it to them next week. Meanwhile, you can view the video here.