Thursday, January 08, 2009

Matters of the heart

Prayer over the People for the Feast of the Holy Family (Year B)

you care for your people even when they stray.
Grant us a complete change of heart,
so that we may follow you with greater fidelity.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.

A complete change of heart. The words pealed like bells in my soul on the feast of the Holy Family. The words struck me--could one really pray for such a radical gift from God? Would it not seem more prudent to pray for small improvements here or there, or extra grace in areas where we struggle? This is not a prayer for those who want to wade in slowly, getting used to the waters of a life lived in Christ's foosteps. No--the Church encourages us to jump straight in without looking back. Reminds me of JPII calling us at the start of the new millenium to "go out into the deep" (Luke 5:4) , to duc in altum, and of his fatherly advice to "be not afraid", given at the start of his pontificate.

I have been praying sporadically, perhaps desperately at tougher times, for grace and understanding in my relationship with Gabriel. Last night I finally threw in the towel on those piecemeal efforts and decided to trust that what the Church prays, I too can pray. I begged for a complete change of heart, to allow me to see Gabriel as a little person who needs to be lovingly, creatively, and energetically taught, rather than a two-year old terror who needs to be controlled.

So much grace was poured out on all three of us today--Gabriel, Peter, and Mommy, home on our own for a few days while Michael is on retreat--that I have to say that I think my prayer is on its way to being answered. I don't have time to give all the details, as bedtime is quickly approaching. I'll finish with one sweet moment: I have been struggling with Gabriel's interactions with Peter being a little bit too rough--playfully rough, but nevertheless, too much for a 2 month old. Today while Gabriel was brushing his teeth, Peter was watching him intently from his snuggled position in the wrap. Gabriel stopped and said in a very loving voice, "Peter, when you get older, you can brush your teeth. And when you get older you can wear pajamas. And when you get older, you can play with me!" It almost seemed the complete change of heart was spilling over--improving not only Mommy's interactions with Gabriel but his interactions with Peter.

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