“I want to be the priest, no I want to be the priest!” How often is it that you hear this phrase during daily life? For me, it is a pretty common occurrence.
This year my office is in St. Placid, where our pre-school campus is located. Our pre-Kindergarten program at SBCA is a perfect blend of Montessori instruction and faith formation through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Students experience the beauty and wonder of their faith through exploring the items of the Mass firsthand, singing and praying together, and learning about their faith in their daily life. One of the most popular games this year the children have come up with is to play “Church”. This typically involves one child acting as the “priest”, while other children pull up a chair and participate in a rendition of “America the Beautiful”. (I kid you not!) It is beautiful to see them imitating what they have seen at Mass and trying to recreate it in their space.
What is also unique about this year is my son is in the classroom adjacent to my office. At first, it was difficult to walk by him without an outburst or cry, but he quickly learned that “Mommy has to go to work” just as he “goes to work” in the classroom. It was hard for him to be near and not embrace me or have my full attention. Children at this age are yearning for physical love and attention – similar to how we long for Our Father’s love and attention. Like my son who saw me and wanted to be near, so too do we strive to be near Our Lord – and so does God desire to be near all of us.
Now, a few weeks into the school year my son and I have both adjusted to the near presence of each other. I enjoy daily kisses and hugs from him, and all his classmates who think of me as their mother, too. I love hearing his voice echo (sometimes loudly) through the schoolhouse and hearing his classmates call his name in the play yard. I relish knowing what he does all day and being able to reflect on his day together during dinner. A blessing indeed, to be able to observe my son in his classroom as he pursues goodness throughout the day. This is a beautiful imitation of God quietly watching and listening to us, His children, as we live and learn.
“I want to be the priest, no I want to be the priest!” As the boys were lining up for recess at the end of the day they were planning out who would be the priest tomorrow and still arguing. I quietly poked my head out and said “You know what boys? When you grow up you ALL can be priests!” Their eyes widened, they gasped and said “Oh yeah!” This seemed to calm their worries and settle their disagreement. One little friend, a girl who had been participating in their “play Church” as a congregant, reminded all, “Yeah, but only boys can be priests!”. She said it so matter-of-factly and confidently, unafraid to discover God’s truth.
May Our Lord continue to be near and bless these smallest learners of St. Benedict Classical Academy this year as they discern all that is true, good, and beautiful in this world!
AUTHOR: Ivy Schmalzried, Director of Communications