Here it is:
I keep thinking about the idea that we envision a certain thing -- in this case, a certain thing about Holy Week and how it will, or should, play out -- and then we don't get what we wanted. We either don't get it at all, or we get some altered version of it, or we get frustrated with the final result.
Now that I've been through 13 Holy Weeks as a Catholic mom, I'm going to pretend that I'm an expert. And here's what I've learned over the last 13 Holy Weeks with kids:
* Very small children don't have to attend every liturgy of the Triduum. We have done it various ways, and each way we tried was simply what we needed to do that particular year. (The last two years it has actually worked for us to attend all of it, including the Vigil, and we've loved that. But that wasn't always the case.)
If the whole gang attending works well for your family, that's great. If it doesn't work for your family, for whatever reason (and please, people, let's not judge what the valid reasons are) then that's okay, too. Holy Thursday and Good Friday are sublime observances that can enhance one's celebration of Easter tremendously. But, the Church doesn't require you to be there. If you can't make it for some reason, don't be harder on yourself than the Church is. Do what works best for you and your domestic church.
* Very small children do not have to understand everything about Good Friday and all of its implications. They just can't always separate the solemnity of Holy Thursday/Good Friday from the approaching joy of Easter, and that's okay. They will learn to "get it" as they get older, with your teaching and guidance. That's why they're called children. They aren't grown up yet, and they don't get everything.
* Understanding that little children don't understand every nuance of Good Friday doesn't mean I'm sending you out to join in every local Easter egg hunt you can find. We happen to skip community Easter egg hunts that fall on a solemn day, but I don't keep Ramona from playing on Good Friday. As a matter of fact, I took incredible delight in her play this morning. We were outside on the swings, and talked about it being Good Friday and she belted out at the top of her lungs (to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It"): "If you love Jesus and you know it, shout Amen! Amen!"
She was pretty delightful yesterday, too, when, to celebrate Holy Thursday she drew a picture of Jesus and His apostles and then starting gift wrapping things she found around the house, because "people should have presents when we're happy." Did she understand all that we would feel and remember at last night's Mass? No. Did she understand that we were happy that Jesus gave us the Eucharist? Yes. The rest will come.
And that's what really got me started thinking about this post. I watched Ramona yesterday, when she drew her picture of Jesus. Her eyes were shining, and she was brimming with joy. And I thought, for a moment, that one of the reasons the Church wisely gave us Lent and penance, Holy Thursday and Good Friday, is that we grown-ups sometimes forget to shine.
We need reminders to shine properly. Lent is that reminder for me. The old cliche, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone?" It holds true for Lent. Loss brings renewal, and Ramona's shining eyes remind me that someday, God willing, I'll enter a paradise where I never again have to give something up in order to appreciate it. My eyes will shine all the time.
And I'll sing eternal praise that little children don't "get it" all the time, and that the many kidterruptions that happen in Mass, in Holy Week, and in life, were really small whispers from God, telling me how much He loves me.