My wife and I went to the children’s Mass on Sunday morning and the place was more packed than a Chuck E. Cheese. Now, I don’t have anything against kids and I confess to having four of my own, but all that crying and whining was a while ago so it took some time for my middle-aged metabolism to get used to it again even though my four daughters are still whining. Some things never change.
There were kids to the right of me and kids to the left of me. Kids in front of me and grandparents behind me.
Looking at all those kids bunched up in the pews, you would have thought there was a mini-baby boom in the making. Generation-X certainly seems to be producing its share of offspring even though I recently read the birth rate is at an all-time low.
One of my friends has five children, so I suspect the era of 1.3 youngsters per family is on the way out in some places, or maybe just in our parish.
Seeing this assembly of youngsters also brought back memories for me. There were so many families together, mothers and fathers with teenagers and toddlers, littering the pews with coloring books, Cheerios, cell phones and binkies. Actually, teenagers, I’ve observed, seem to be as attached to their iPhones as they were to their pacifiers.
When my kids were young, I carried a private collection of binkies because my daughters lost one or two a week. Very early in my tenure as a father, I learned you should always have an extra pacifier handy, especially at Mass.
I thought of my daughters and all those Sunday mornings with treats and crayons and trips to the bathroom during the consecration.
"Can you wait?" I’d asked.
"Noooooo" was the usual response.
A young father near me was telling his three small daughters, "Kneel down and say your prayers." What better advice can a father give his children? It was advice they will remember all their lives.
During the homily, I looked around at all the children and I saw the future of the Church. For the first time in a long time, I had hope, a real hope that only the Holy Spirit could inspire – not the false hope of politicians or editorial writers or corporations.
Some time ago, I read a prophecy that Jesus had allegedly given to a woman at Medjugorje, in which he said that her children’s children would live in a different world from what we know today – a world that looked to Christ, a world that recognized Christ as the Truth, and not temporal leaders, not the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, not a government or a celebrity, but the King of kings.
I pray that day will arrive soon because I want them to grow up in a different world from the one I read about every morning, where children use drugs, where they are abused, where they are sexually active, where parents neglect their needs, where they get their values from the perverse views of the entertainment industry. I pray they grow up in a different world from the one they have inherited from us.
How will this world come about? I’m sure it won’t come about through politics or legislation, because that path has failed us far too long. The kingdom will come about through people committed to Christ, sharing that commitment with others.
And these young people, I was sure, will be inspired by the Holy Spirit to live a life different from the lifestyle that society tells them is good. They are the future warriors for Christ, and future leaders of the Church who will take us forward in the third millennium. They will change a decadent culture and bring it back to Christ. And we have to prepare them for the battle.
Change is in the air, and the Holy Spirit is leading it. These children are the future, and the future will be much different from the past. All these children, I’m convinced, are being formed to lead us into a new era.
So as Bob Dylan once said, "Get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand ’cause the times they are a-changin’." And these are changes that even Dylan couldn’t have imagined. These are changes that have been destined since the beginning of time.
Yes, there is reason to be hopeful.
J.F. Pisani is a writer who lives with his family in the New Haven area.