There I was. Home alone for the first time with three kids ages 2.5 and under. Yes, that’s right. And, you guessed it, they were all screaming. I should have lost my mind, or at least my cool. I wanted to just lay down and cry with them. But, in a strange moment of grace, I didn’t. It was as though I was able to stand back and see a much deeper reality: these screaming children are saints. Not just saints in a cutesy or cliche manner. They are indeed true saints.
Children below the age of reason who are baptized have a pure soul, untainted by personal sin. They are incapable of sin, no matter how maddening their behavior is. Baptism creates a saint, and it is only later in life that we mess this up. I know I have, time and time again. But these three in my house that day made me realize my unworthiness as a mother. Who was I to raise these immortal souls? Why was this immense responsibility entrusted to me?
I thought of our Blessed Mother, Mary. She must have asked the very same question: why me? Granted, she had a much more amazing child in that He was actually God, but let’s just put that aside for a moment. Mary must have questioned her worthiness. I’m willing to go out on a limb and guess that she did not know that she was immaculately conceived and free of all personal sin or the stain of Original Sin. Or did she? Regardless, she knew one thing for sure: her son was God Incarnate. Not just an image and likeness of God (as each human being is), but God Himself. I tried to imagine her, looking at little baby Jesus screaming. What did she think and do in moments like that? What could she do, other than adore?
I was dumbfounded by this thought. Mary adored God. It probably was not the type of adoration that comes to our minds: quiet Adoration chapel (and God help you if your cell phone so much as vibrates in there while Mrs. Always-Prays-Night-And-Day-In-Silence is in there when you make a visit). She adored the Lord through the noise of daily life: the screaming, the giggles, the squeals of delight when Joseph came in from work. Being the most perfect human that ever was created, she was able to raise her heart and mind to God in any circumstance.
And there I was, sitting on the carpet, looking at my three screaming children, wondering what to do. I suddenly realized what I had to do: adore God in these kids. I took their screams as a call to prayer. The greatness of my vocation as a mother humbled me, and all I could do was adore God in these little ones. I tried to comfort them as best I could: a diaper for one, toy for another, and some milk for the littlest one. Within a few moments, they were all content.
The moments are fleeting, and people often say that time will go by quickly. But sometimes, the Holy Spirit breaks in (and yes, it always seems He waits until you’re almost at the breaking point, ready to give in to despair). In those moments, a bunch of screaming saints can teach you and me a valuable lesson in prayer: adore the Lord at all times. Each moment is a gift, even if it is not the ideal vision we had for that moment or situation. Each moment, therefore, is a call to prayer.