Mind the Baby!

Author: Mary Perkins


A mother's various attempts in the course of the days routine to appreciate by observation, reason and faith the wonders of God's making and remaking of one small Christian--these attempts set forth in the hope of working with God's help towards a less harassed, more intelligent and loving service of Christ in these his least brethren our fascinating and exasperating children


Copyright, Sheed & Ward, 1949

NIHIL OBSTAT: Eric F. MacKenzie, J.D.C. Censor Librorum Deputatus IMPRIMATUR: Richard J. Cushing Archbishop of Boston Boston, July 11, 1949




The chapters in this book have appeared as articles in "St. Joseph Magazine"


QUIET TIME "Where did you come from?"

IN THE PARK What a Baby is

RAINY AFTERNOON What a Baby does

ON THE PORCH What a Baby is for

BATH-TIME Baptism & Confirmation

SUPPER The Holy Eucharist

TWO LITTLE CROCODILES The Mystical Body of Christ

NIGHT "Under the Shadow of Thy Wings"


"Where did you come from?"

THERE he sits in his play-pen, Thomas Edmund Ryan, age a year and a half. His hair shines in the afternoon sunlight; his cheeks are bright red from his morning on the porch; his dark eyes look merrily round at the world and find it good. He is clutching his after-lunch cookies, one in each hand, taking bites from each alternately; and he pauses now and then to smile a wide and crumby smile, or to utter a loud cry of dismay when a piece of cookie falls before it reaches his mouth and a satisfied chuckle of discovery when he finds it safe on his lap.

This is supposed to be the quiet time of day--and, for once, it is. Four-year-old Jonjo is asleep upstairs, a rare and happy event. Thomas here should be well provided against the hour's confinement with his cookies to eat and a newspaper to tear up, two trucks with wheels that go round, an empty pillbottle with its top, a big ball and an enormous wooden spoon. I can lie down on the couch for a few minutes and relax.

This might be the moment for that fifteen-minute meditation which spiritual writers say everybody can find time for...But Thomas is so distracting with his exclamations and bumps and rustlings and bangings. As his father remarked one Sunday when he was in charge of Thomas and the telephone and the door-bell: "It's like trying to think in a boiler factory!" But since I have to be with Thomas so much of every day, I ought to be able to think in his presence. Perhaps "minding the baby" ought to mean keeping your mind on him, not trying to get it off. What does Thomas re-mind me of?

"Where did you come from, baby dear?" Well, certainly not out of the everywhere. Everywhere could never produce anything so definite and particular and personal as Thomas. Where did he come from? From nothing? But nothing couldn't have produced him, any more than everywhere; he is too clearly something and somebody. Nothingness could never have been the cause of this so very actual and active little boy here in his play-pen, eating a cookie, kicking his feet and uttering loud comments on life as he sees it. Yet he must have come from nothing, for only two years ago I was wondering whether he would be a he or a she, and only three years ago he didn't exist. There wasn't any Thomas at all. From nothingness to existence, from nothingness to this very special existence--all in less than three years!

But where did the idea of Thomas come from? It could not have come from us, his parents, for we did not even know about him until he had already started to be. And anyway, how could we have had as pleasing and startling an idea as Thomas? Sometimes when you make a cake or write a book it turns out better than you expected. But nothing that you make is ever such a vast and continual surprise as your own child, from the first moment you see him. (And when, by God's grace, you finally meet him in heaven and for the first time really see his very self all filled with the life and happiness of God in its own special way--that must be the most wonderful surprise of all.)

But if Thomas is not our idea, whose is he? Of course, he must be God's. Thomas did not exist until a short time ago: but the idea, the plan, the blue-print of him has been in the mind of God from all eternity. That funny round yellow head, that serious look with which he is surveying the vanishing cookie, those short hard little legs--were planned by God and foreseen by Him from forever! Thinking about Thomas as one of God's ideas certainly gives you rather a different notion of His mind from that which you can get merely by thinking of Him as planning everything-in-general. When God looked at Himself, Infinite Reality, with a view to creation (to put it in very human language), He saw all the possible ways in which He could express Himself through created things, all the ways in which His infinite perfections could be expressed and reflected by things outside Himself, from the angel to the amoeba, from the star to the star-fish. And, therefore, babyhood in general and our Thomas in particular must reflect some of God's Perfections. Could one deduce from looking at Thomas that among these perfections must be infinite Humor?

But God not only knew about our Thomas; He loved him from all eternity too. Otherwise he would be just a possibility, not the very actual and active fact that he is. We could not love him until he was here to be loved. But God's creative love brought him into existence in order to share His Goodness with him.

And how much God must love this funny little boy now sprawled all over his big red ball, laughing as it rolls him over on his back, sitting up like a Jack-in-the-box to hug it to his chest and start his game all over again. For God not only planned him and chose him to share in His perfections as far as a human baby can do so. He "chose him out in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be a saint, to be blameless in His sight for love of Him, marking him out beforehand (so His Will decreed) to be His adopted child through Jesus Christ." God the Father looked at His Word, His Son, and saw in Him the idea of our little son. God the Father ordained the Incarnation of His Son, and in that very decree He chose our son to share in His Own Son's Sonship. He wanted our baby not only to be His creature, but to become His Own child in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, to be co-heir with Christ of His eternal happiness. The mysterious Will of God from all eternity chose this little boy to "manifest the splendor of that grace by which He has taken us into favor in the person of His beloved Son."

And this must mean that the human mind of Christ also knew all about Thomas Edmund long before we did. For from the first moment of His Incarnation, His human mind knew about all the souls He had come to save, and His human Will loved them all. On the Cross, He "loved him and delivered Himself for him." When He rose on Easter morning, He foresaw his Baptism, when He would destroy our small Thomas' death by His dying, and restore his life as a child of God by His rising. And now in heaven He looks at our Thomas with His human eyes, and loves our Thomas with His human as well as His Divine love. He is continually giving His life of sanctifying grace to this little boy, through His Holy Spirit, in the mysterious vital current which flows through the branches of the Vine, through all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ. Our Lord has ready for Thomas all the graces he will need all his life long to grow up in all things in Christ, to take his special and unique place in the work of the Mystical Body, the Church on earth, to achieve his own place in heaven for all eternity.

To think that Thomas Edmund here in his playpen has such an integral part in God's plans for all mankind!--that he is planned to be, called to be God's assistant, Christ's cooperator in the work of redemption, instrument of the Holy Spirit in the sanctification of other people...Look at him now. The cookies have long since vanished, but their memory lingers in crumbs all over his face, his hands, and his nice blue suit that Granny brought him only yesterday. Every yellow hair is standing on end at a different angle from his wrestling with the ball, and he has taken both shoes and one sock off and thrust them out of his pen onto the floor. Now he is working on the pill-bottle. He has got the top off and is trying earnestly to screw it back on. Ah!, he says loudly as at last it fits, and he bangs the bottle on the floor of the pen. How wonderful to know that somebody in our house is receiving all that God's love wants to give him, is giving all the glory to God he possibly can, simply by existing and wriggling and banging a bottle!

But we, Thomas' parents, are also responsible for all the glory our son is giving God now and will ever give Him. For God allowed us to help Him,--or, rather, He made us able to help Him to bring Thomas into existence. God so recently created his soul from nothing; but, if one may say so, He made his body out of nothing very indirectly--and with our help. All the actual material of his bones and blood and solid flesh was made back at the beginning of things, when "God created heaven and earth." And the form, the pattern of Thomas' body was created when God first made man to His image and likeness. St. Paul says that we were all "in Adam"; so Thomas must have been in Adam too. He must have been "in" the father of the human race when he first looked around at the garden of Paradise, when he and Eve were blessed by God and told to increase and multiply and fill the earth and rule over it. He certainly was "in" Adam in this mysterious solidarity of the human race with its first head, when Adam fell and lost the life of grace for himself, and for his children and for us and our children-- for otherwise Tom wouldn't have needed to be baptized. And he must have been "in" Adam when God promised a Redeemer, a new Head of the human race, in Whom human nature would once again and more gloriously be united to God.

God must have been preparing for our little son's existence through all the uncountable generations of men from Adam to John and me. He must have been watching over all the combinations and permutations of genes and chromosomes (or whatever scientists now call them), through all those centuries of prehistory and history, so that when our Tom finally came to exist, his body would have just the special characteristics and capabilities that God wanted it to have, so that it would fit the special soul He was going to create to in-form it and to make it into this special human person, Thomas Edmund Ryan.

And then, after all these centuries of preparation, God used us, John and me, and all the chances and changes of our lives and our free wills, to produce little Thomas for His love. That we should have met each other at all--born thousands of miles and fourteen years apart-- seems like accident. That we should have loved and married each other rather than anyone else seems to be the chance result of innumerable events and circumstances and choices. But here is this little boy, and his older brother upstairs, and their sister in heaven, to prove it not really chance, but Providence, to show that God was forming us all along in order to marry us in Christ and to produce, through us, these children, who are at once the gift of God's love to us and the gift of our love to God.

For it was the action of our love which gave God His opportunity to create each of these three new human creatures. Without our cooperation, God would not have brought these three beings into ever- lasting existence, these three special persons, each unique and individual, each having a special part in God's plans for the whole human race. How God honors us, even in the natural order of things, to make His actions so dependent on ours!

But if He would not produce these special babies without us, we certainly could not have produced them without Him. One can plan not to have a baby; but nobody can plan to have a baby and be sure that it will happen. At some moment, some instant of whose coming or passing I was entirely unaware, God's creative power came to meet our action, and infused a new and unique soul into the first beginnings of a human body. Up to that time, my body had been placidly attending to its own needs; all my organs and glands had merely been going about their usual business of keeping me alive and active. But, all of a sudden, there was a new life for them to attend to. Without my knowing anything about it, or having any control over it, my physical forces went to work to form and nourish and increase little Thomas, in ways so complex and mysterious that no scientist has even begun to chart them thoroughly. "Didst Thou not form me in my mother's womb? I praise Thee for my wondrous fashioning, for all the wonders of my creation. Of my soul Thou hast full knowledge, and this mortal frame has no mysteries for Thee, Who didst contrive it in secret, devise its pattern, there in the dark recesses of the earth."

And surely this is the special joy of those months of pregnancy, the joy that underlies all the discomfort and annoyance and weariness and nervous strain--to know that God is using you in such a special way, that you are as it were His loom on which He is weaving the substance of a human body; that it is His work which is going on in you; that He is watching over it to see that it comes out according to His Will. When you are having a baby, you cannot help being God's instrument. Your body is for those nine months what your whole self ought to be all the time--the instrument through which God is working to achieve His plans. How beautifully the prayer of the Church for an expectant mother expresses the truth of a baby's coming to be: "Accept the offering of a contrite heart and the fervent prayer of Thy handmaid, as she humbly pleads for the life of her child whom she has conceived by Thy Will. Guard her child-birth, and defend her from all assaults and injury of the bitter enemy. By the obstetric hand of Thy mercy may her infant happily see the light of day, and, being re-born in holy Baptism, forever seek Thy ways and come to everlasting life, through Jesus Christ Thy Son."

Here is the point and glory of the whole process of parenthood--that our children should be re-born in Baptism, should always seek God's ways and should come to everlasting life through Christ Our Lord. For we do not get married merely to bring forth more human beings. We marry in Christ to bring forth new human creatures whom God will make His children by Baptism. We do not get married merely to carry on the human race; we get married to build up the Mystical Body of Christ. We get married so that we ourselves and our children will do God's Will as members of Christ's Mystical Body on earth and together share in His everlasting happiness in heaven.

So now two streams of life meet in our Thomas' life:--the stream of natural life coming from Adam and the stream of supernatural life coming from Our Lord on Calvary. There were two births for this one little boy: his first from me in the hospital, his second from the baptismal font in the Cathedral, "the immaculate womb of our holy Mother, the Church." And the wonder of Christian parenthood is that he had to have the natural life we were made able to give him, before he could receive super-natural life, divine life from God and from the Church. He could not have come to his second birth unless we had given him his first. To become God's child, God first made him our child--and here he is, one Christian baby, flat on his stomach with his legs kicking, reaching out through the bars of his play-pen to make his truck roll back and forth on the floor outside.

How amazingly the marvels of our re-making reflect the wonderful process of our making (or, rather, the other way around. And why should one be amazed, since God made the natural order to reflect and so teach us about the supernatural?). For God gave our Thomas his natural life both through our cooperation in forming his body and through His Own direct action in creating his soul. And similarly, He gave him super-natural life by water and His Holy Spirit, through the action of the Church and through the direct action of His sanctifying grace. Just as God did not bring Thomas into natural existence without the cooperation of all his ancestors down from Adam to John and myself, so He did not give him super-natural life without the cooperation of innumerable human minds and wills and deeds. Our child's "share in the divine nature" comes to him directly by the working of the Holy Spirit, but it comes to him from Christ Our Lord, God and man, through the power of His Passion and Death and Resurrection. And it comes to him also through the Church, born from our Lord's side on the Cross to be the new Eve, the mother of all who would live by Christ's life. How many generations of bishops have lived and worked and handed on the priestly power first received by the Apostles from Christ Our Lord in Palestine nineteen hundred years ago, so that there would be a blessed font in a Cathedral in Boston, Massachusetts in the year 1947, and a priest of the Church to act in Christ's person and to give our child his second birth from that font, his birth to everlasting life, his birth into the family of God! How kind God is to his human creatures, to let us work with Him not only in His work of making, but also of redeeming and sanctifying...

A loud cry breaks in on my meditations. The little "terminus ad quem" (as we used to be taught to say in philosophy class) of all this divine and human action, has rolled his truck too far away from the pen and is desperately trying to reach it. What is Mummy doing? And from upstairs floats the pathetic repeated wail of our older child of God: "Mummy, is it time to get up yet?" To work is to pray? Well, then, back to prayer!


What a Baby is

AT LAST we are safely in the park, Jonjo and Thomas Edmund and I. Jonjo abandons his tricycle and runs over to watch the big boys playing football. Thomas Edmund bounces up and down in his stroller with wild impatience to be out and doing. I lay the bag of necessities, apples and cookies and cleansing tissue, down on the bench; lift Thomas Edmund out and set him down on his two unsteady feet. He staggers around for a moment, looks at me questioningly, and then makes for the nearest pile of leaves under a big tree.

The autumn sun shines low and warm on yellow leaves and grass. Mothers and children, tricycles and carriages are dotted here and there in the golden haze. Jonjo's cries of joy come reassuringly over the stubble; he has been invited to join a "football game," conducted by a kindly-looking man with two other four-year-olds. He will be well taken care of: I can sit down on the bench in peace and watch Thomas Edmund.

There he stands, such a small little boy, surrounded by such a lot of bumpy grass and overshadowed by such a very big tree. There are only twenty-five inches of him, from the top of his yellow head to the soles of his business-like brown shoes; but obviously he is the focal point of all this scenery--and not only to a mother's eye, for that man and woman over there are watching him just as intently as I am. Why is it that however beautiful a landscape may be, a baby in it is always the center of attention? What is a baby anyhow that people should stop and smile at him--even the most improbable people, such as crotchety old gentlemen and cross young ladies?

"What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?" If God is thus mindful of a Thomas Edmund, it is no wonder that we pay some attention to him... "Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with honor and glory." Perhaps it is because God's making of a baby is still so evident and still so unspoiled that we all stop to look.

But only "a little lower than the angels"? It must take a great deal of humility in an angel to recognize that he is only a little higher in the scale of creation than a small human being like Thomas Edmund; let alone to acknowledge that God has crowned that funny round yellow head with such honor and glory of baptismal grace that our son is, in super-nature if not in nature, the very equal of the angel.

Look at the little-less-than-angel over there, gazing in wonder at a squirrel running up and down the tree-trunk--Thomas Edmund Ryan, a human creature and a child of God; by nature akin to the ground and the grass and the tree and the squirrel, and to his guardian angel, and by Baptism made a partaker of the divine nature. What a span of reality in one small being!

He is sitting down now, his fat legs wide apart, his small back straight and sturdy (if only we grownups could sit like that!) turning a twig over and over in his square little hands, examining it from all angles, chewing it now and then, and occasionally uttering a loud "Aii!" of admiration.

"Man is a creature composed of body and soul, made to the image and likeness of God." ...I can see Thomas' square little body, I can feel its weight in all my aching muscles. But what about his soul; how do I know that he has one? By faith, yes; but surely even common sense could perceive that small boys are moved by a different kind of vital force than are stones and bushes and squirrels. No squirrel ever showed such scientific, sustained and impersonal curiosity about a nut as Thomas Edmund is devoting to that twig.

He looks up, throws the twig away with a royal gesture of satiation, staggers to his feet and with immense difficulty leans over and picks up something else. "Oh Tom, what have you got now? Let Mummy see." He trots over to me obediently (for once) and holds out a large yellow leaf. My goodness, what a beautiful big leaf! He pushes it at me insistently until I take it and admire it, grabs it back again and sits down, plunk, at my feet to enjoy his treasure with every appropriate and inappropriate sense. "No, not in your mouth, Tom." He looks up rather hurt; then slowly and thoughtfully tears the leaf to shreds and picks up each piece in turn to examine it again more thoroughly.

Well, anybody with any perception could see Thomas Edmund's soul shining out of his eyes. But, sentiment aside, surely one can find proofs in all his actions of the existence of a human soul. People who think that babies are merely little animals must never have observed either animals or babies. A puppy will bring you a stick to throw for him; he may even bring you a treasure he thinks you want him to re- trieve for you; but he would never bring you a leaf to admire with him, and insist on your admiring it. He would never offer you part of his dog biscuit, as Thomas so often offers me pieces of his cookies. You can keep a dog happy quite easily, with the right kind of food and exercise and play and companionship, but nobody on earth can keep an eighteen-month-old baby happy all the time. For the baby wants everything in sight, and that is because he is made to want everything beyond sight, and that is because he has a human soul (I must try to remember this chain of reasoning the next time Thomas Edmund is being quite unbearable with all his wants).

Tom's human soul is now moving him to some new enterprise. He is on his feet again, making for his brother's abandoned tricycle. He pushes it over, bracing all his small muscles and grunting with the effort. When it finally falls, he looks at his achievement with awe and says "Oh!" Then he pushes one of the pedals to make the front wheel turn around, with all the earnestness of a scientist in his laboratory. Yes, it really turns; and, what is still better, it keeps on turning. "Ai!" says Thomas Edmund, looking up at me to be sure that I am sharing his excitement, "Ai! "

But how does all this show that a little boy is made to God's image and likeness in a special way in which grass and trees and squirrels are not? Because God knows and loves and is happy in Himself, Infinite Truth, Infinite Goodness and Infinite Happiness, and He has made Thomas Edmund able to know truth and love goodness: the truth and goodness of wheels and cookies, the truth and goodness of ideas and actions. He has given him powers of knowledge and love which He has also raised and strengthened by grace so that Thomas Edmund will be able to know and love God Himself and to be happy in His own happiness.

Then again, God is a Person--a "Who," not merely a "What"; and He has made Thomas Edmund also a "Who," in His image. We were told in college that a "person is an independent substance of a rational nature"--and anyone who has ever watched a baby busy with his own affairs realizes just what that definition means. Nobody could have any doubt that Thomas over there is a great deal more than a "What"; that he is a "Who" all of his own, in his fine independence and self-hood a small created reflection of the infinite independence and of-Himself-ness of God.

But there is a more appealing way than this in which our Thomas shows that he is in God's image. Little as he is, he already wants to share with people he loves his small happinesses in cookies and leaves and turning tricycle wheels. "God is love," Holy Scripture tells us. He made everything because of love, out of His overflowing generosity, so that He might communicate His perfections to things according to the designs of His wisdom, so that some of His creatures might even come to share His own life and happiness. And so, little Thomas Edmund, made to His image, made to love and to give himself to God and men in love, already wants to share what is most his own, his joy (even though he clings desperately to more material possessions, especially those he shouldn't have, like matchboxes!).

What about Thomas Edmund's body in all this? The catechism doesn't say, "This likeness is entirely in the soul." It says "chiefly in the soul." But what likeness to the infinite God can one possibly find in that funny square little body? I remember a glorious prayer said at a Bishop's consecration, when his special episcopal gloves are blessed: "Almighty God, who gave man, made to Your image, hands remarkable for their separation into fingers, as an organ of intelligence for correct workmanship; which You commanded to be kept clean so that the soul might be worthily carried in them..." Here the liturgy fills out the catechism's bare statement: the organs of our bodies are made to be the expressions and instruments of the powers of our souls, which are made to God's image. Tom's small fat hands, which are now so carefully investigating the inner workings of the tricycle-wheel, such dirty little hands, covered with oil and earth, are made to be the instruments of his intelligence, so that he may make things rightly, according to his likeness to God the Maker. (Should I try to keep them cleaner than I do? Since our souls are carried in our hands, it is no wonder we look at people's hands to see what kind of people they are, or that a handshake is such a communication of personality, or that there is a whole science of deducing character from handwriting!)

Thomas Edmund has now managed to wrench the seat off the tricycle, has somehow got to his feet with it, and is staggering off proudly with his prize. Need I take it away from him? No, he can't do much harm to it, or it to him; and a tricycle seat is such a fine red and silver object to carry around. Surely the uprightness of that small figure shows something of God's image too, or at least that he is made to "seek the things that are above." Now he is sitting down again and digging hard in the dirt with the shaft of the seat, as if to point out that he is made to the image of God, the Ruler of the universe, who commanded man to "subdue the earth" as well as to cultivate it. Thomas Edmund certainly looks as if he were trying to subdue this particular section of ground--such fierce determination is on his face as he digs!

The little lord of the earth looks up from his digging, scrambles to his feet and rushes over to me, with an appealing look in his dark brown eyes. What's the matter? He snatches the bag off the bench beside me and starts to investigate it. Oh, a cookie. You'd better let me get it out. He grabs the cookie, gives it a big crunch, and goes back slowly to his digging. What an odd thing is a human being, dependent on crackers and milk and meat and vegetables for his soul to have a chance of developing; yet so independent of such sustenance that his soul will go on existing for all eternity without it (and his body too, for that matter, after its resurrection, by the grace of God): so much a part of all this scenery and yet so separate and so different.

When you begin to think about everything that a human being is, you realize what wise men mean when they tell us to know ourselves as the first step to knowing God. How justly will Thomas Edmund be able to say, when he knows enough to say it, "I praise Thee because I am made so wonderfully." For if he were simply a human being, that would be amazing enough to praise God for, but his humanness is, after all, only the foundation, the prerequisite for what he really is, for (if one may dare so to call it) his divineness.

"O God, who so wonderfully built up the dignity of human substance and still more wonderfully refashioned it..." What new actuality was added to Thomas Edmund when he was born again of water and the Holy Spirit? A baptized baby does not look different from an unbaptized one (though his mother certainly feels some difference when he comes back fresh from the Holy Font). You can't tell which of all these children playing here in the park are baptized and which are not. Yet the ones who are live by a different kind of life and are infinitely more alive than the ones who have not received baptism.

Thomas Edmund over there thoughtfully grinding the grubby remains of his cookie on the tricycle seat, is not only a human child, He is God's child. And God did not simply adopt him at baptism, did not merely say that from then on He would consider Thomas Edmund as His child. He actually gave him a share in His own life; He made him His child in- deed.

Nor is Thomas Edmund simply one more child of the Eternal Father; he is somehow a new version or expression or realization of God's only-begotten Son, of Christ our Lord. He became God's child by being incorporated in Christ. He received the life of a son of God in and through God's Only Son. When God the Father sees that little boy playing there on the grass, He sees him in His Son and He sees His Son in him. Christ our Lord is continually pouring His life into the members of His Mystical Body--so much so that whatever I do to or for Thomas Edmund, I do to and for Christ Himself. (Dear Lord, forgive me for all the times when I get so angry with him, when his yelling annoys me beyond endurance, when I am just too tired to attend to him cheerfully. Help me to remember that it is You I am taking care of in him, and to do it better.) And God the Holy Spirit is always dwelling in Thomas Edmund as His temple--a very funny little temple for the Spirit of Love and Joy--so that I am not just washing or feeding or clothing my own child; I am taking care of the temple of God.

The little dwelling-place of the Blessed Trinity is now trying to climb up on the tricycle. Oh woe, of course he didn't get the seat back where it belongs. He lets out a wild yell of terror and frustration; the tricycle falls over with him, and he lies howling on the grass.

Poor Thomas Edmund! The world is still a valley of tears, even for the children of God; and it is only by many tribulations, many falls and frustrations of all kinds, that we enter into our inheritance of God's kingdom. When Christ our Lord was a baby, He must have fallen off things too, and cried as babies cry, so why should we expect to have our children walk any smoother road than the one He walked Himself...

But here is Jonjo at last, demanding his apple and cookie. "Look, dear, be a nice boy, give Tom a ride on your bicycle and cheer him up."

Jonjo mounts his steed; I put Thomas Edmund on the back (the yells have stopped as soon as he sees a ride in prospect); and they set out, bumping over the stubble, Thomas Edmund hugging his brother hard and singing a little tune of joy.

Two little human creatures, two children of God, two other Christs, two temples of the Holy Spirit riding off together on a red and silver tricycle. Come on, boys, let's go home.


What a Baby Does

POOR Thomas Edmund is almost as damp with tears as is the world outside with rain. He is just getting over his rage at not going to the park, and his further rage at seeing his brother depart to play with the children next door. Big drops roll down his cheeks as he stretches on tiptoe to look out the window. Look, old man, life is difficult, but not quite so bad as all that. Here is a cooky, and if you turn around you will see that the toy-box is open. Thomas Edmund looks at me reproachfully. After all, it was Mummy who not ten minutes ago dragged him upstairs kicking and screaming after he had got himself all the way down, sliding so carefully backwards over the slippery descent and thinking he was so clever to be all ready to go out-doors. But he isn't one to hold a grudge for long. He sees the cooky and snatches it. At the sight of the open toybox (kept shut except on rainy days), his eyes brighten. "Aii!" he says and trots over to it.

Now we should have peace for a minute and Mummy should have a chance to sit down. If I only had my son's energy...Look at him now, throwing things out of the box as if his life depended on it, blocks, trucks, pieces of a wooden train, two tin pieplates (so that's where they have been!), all flying out in a wild shower. Oh dear, what has happened? The shower has stopped, and Thomas Edmund is crying. I'll have to get up and see what the trouble is. My gracious, what a mess! He is trying to pull out of the box a horrible tangle of extra ropes for the swing, baby-harness, a peg-block, a dump-truck, and two coat-hangers firmly entwined in the middle. Nothing will budge, however hard Thomas Edmund pulls; he is red in the face with effort and frustration. All right, Mummy will fix it. I pull everything out, disentangle it, remove the pie-plates and the coat-hangers, and again leave Thomas Edmund to his explorations.

Now what? This time the yells are authentic yells of pain. Oh, poor little boy! He has fallen head-first into the big box. His fat legs wave wildly in the air; his arms thrash helplessly. Here we go. Now you're all right. I stand him on his feet, but that doesn't seem to be what he wants. He is trying to climb in the box again. Oh, I see, you want to sit in it. I shove the remaining toys out of his way, lift him inside and sit him down. Is that right? Oh, the cooky...it would never do to lose that. I find it in a far corner, give it to him and retire again to my chair. He has the cookie between his teeth, rather like a cigar, and both hands are busy with toys; he looks absurdly like a satisfied business man getting at the morning's mail. To misquote St. Augustine: "How happy is the rich man in the midst of his possessions!"

What a number of desires has a small boy--and, except when Daddy is home, it is Mummy who has to try to satisfy them, or, which is even more wearing, to teach him how to begin to control them or to endure their remaining unsatisfied. If Thomas Edmund's desires were only physical--for food and sleep and exercise--I should certainly not be so exhausted at the end of the day. What wear Mummy out are his complex human needs: needs to find out about things and to master them; to find out about his own growing powers and to master them; needs to do things for himself and yet to be protected and helped and loved the same time. And these needs express themselves so violently and unexpectedly and alarmingly. For they have been made immensely more complicated and difficult to handle by the effects of original sin in the "little angel" (and in his mother, for that matter), making the job of "minding the baby" rather like exercising a team of wild horses while teaching somebody else to drive it. And, at the same time, the task of helping Thomas Edmund develop and coordinate and integrate his powers is made infinitely more necessary and more important by the fact that he is not just a human baby, but a member of Christ, possessing not only the faculties and weaknesses of a child of Adam, but also the powers and destiny of a child of God.

Yet, of course, I am proud of all his violent desires and impulses and actions. I tell people about them ad nauseam, because, though they exhaust me, they show me that Thomas Edmund has a full complement of human powers, that he is growing up, as a little boy should, towards normal human maturity. No parents really want their child to stay a baby: a mother rejoices "because a man has been born into the world." And all parents realize in some fashion that their job is not so much taking care of babies as helping in the development of future men and women. A Christian mother, then, certainly ought not to complain at having so little time to sit down in a chair, for her job is even more glorious--to help in the development of a Christian, a member of Christ, a co-worker with God, who is called to grow up not simply to human maturity, but to the "measure of the age of the fullness of Christ."

If my Thomas Edmund were only a kitten, taking care of him would be certainly much simpler, but how much less interesting or valuable than it is. He would need food and sleep and exercise and cleanliness; he would need to investigate things and try out his powers in play. But the kitten would only need my supervision and training if he were being brought up here, in a human environment. To a wild-cat kitten, his own instincts and those of his parents, innate patterns of action and re-action laid down for them by God, are quite sufficient guides to the fullness of wild-cat maturity, to the perfect achievement of God's purposes for wild-cats. Thomas Edmund here, sitting so solemnly in his box, has all a kitten's powers, but none of the kitten's instinctive skill in using them rightly. He has the same senses as the kitten; he has muscles and nerves; he has a sense for coordinating all his impressions and referring them to himself or to something outside himself; he has a memory for sights and sounds and smells and tastes and feelings and actions, and an imagination to bring pictures of all these sensations into his head. He can move around (he certainly can!) and absorb nourishment and grow; and in time he will be able to help to produce new members of his species. But in Thomas Edmund all these powers are human, not merely animal. And therefore while he has such strong unformed tendencies towards using his powers for human kinds of actions, he was born with no fixed nature-made patterns as to how to use them for his own good or the good of mankind. For the beauty of animal actions is that they follow God's plan and God's Will instinctively; but the glory of human actions is to follow God's plan and to obey God's Will consciously and lovingly and freely. Even though it would make life so much easier for me just now, Thomas Edmund could not have a kitten's instincts and still be capable of his future manhood, of free and wise and skillful action for the love of God....

But more than this, the kitten's powers at each stage of his development are always perfectly under the control of his cat-nature, are always used rightly for the purposes of cat-hood. But Thomas Edmund's powers are developing unevenly and unexpectedly and are by no means under the control of his human nature, for he inherits the dis-integration and perversity which are the effects of original sin. A kitten inevitably grows into a cat, if it grows into anything. But a little boy does not develop by any means inevitably into a true human being, with all his powers subject to reason and will, and his whole self subject to God; with all his actions truly human actions, wise and skillful and purposeful actions, done for the good of himself and mankind. Much less does a little member of Christ inevitably develop into a perfect Christian man in time and eternity. The terrible danger of human life is that he can choose not to do so, as its glory is that with God's help he can choose and achieve God's high purposes. No wonder that it takes a whole life-time of God's grace and one's own efforts and those of one's parents and teachers and friends and unknown benefactors to grow up to the fullness of Christian living. No wonder...

But Thomas Edmund seems to have had enough of his toy-box. He lifts one small fat leg carefully over the side, rolls forward on his tummy while I hold my breath. Ahh...the legs reach the floor first. He stands upright and looks at me for approval. What a clever baby to get out of a box all by himself and not fall down! A kitten would never be half so tentative or half so self-satisfied. Even so small a boy's physical achievements can be truly human achievements, involving a self-made plan and not simply an impulse, involving self-motion according to that plan and not simply an instinctive reaction to a desire. And then, if anybody is around to make it a social achievement also, an occasion for praise and love as well as self-satisfaction, so much the better.

Thomas Edmund looks up at me. "Ga," he remarks, conversationally. What was that? "Gaaa," more insistently. I do not move; he looks at me scornfully--what a stupid Mummy--and makes for the kitchen. Hey, where are you going? He is in the pantry, up the two steps of the little red ladder, and has the top off the cookie-box before I arrive. I hand him his cookie, expecting at least a smile. But something is all wrong. His face falls. He looks at the cookie, puts it carefully down on the floor and starts up the ladder again. What on earth? No, it isn't the same kind of cookie as you had before. There aren't any more. Look, here's the box. But this is a perfectly good cookie; you have had this kind before and you like them. Honestly, Tom, there aren't any more of the others. He looks at me as if I had played him a very mean trick, and walks off in dignified dudgeon. What a silly baby!

But is he so silly? It was not because he was hungry that he wanted a cookie, but because he wanted more of the special feel and taste of the special cookie he had just finished. A different kind of cookie does not satisfy his need, so he is not going to bother with it. A kitten is never so selective: he would not eat at all if he was not hungry, and if he was hungry and you gave him a kind of food he liked, he would certainly eat it. But Thomas Edmund did not have an animal urge for satisfying his hunger. He had a human urge for a special kind of physical and spiritual satisfaction. Already his developing human mind can go from the particular to the general and back again--at least in regard to cookies. He already exercises the peculiarly human power of making up abstract ideas from the experiences his senses give him about concrete objects. From all the cookies he has seen and felt and tasted, he has certainly made up a general idea of cookie, so that he can distinguish a cookie from other kinds of food, and can, on occasion, apply his idea of the Universal Cookie to a new kind of actual cookie presented to him. And he has also subdivided cookie-in-general into kinds of cookies, some of which he knows he likes more than others, or likes at a special time more than others, and he knows perfectly well whether the cookie I am giving him is the special kind he wants right now or not.

Thus all the sensations of his one-and-a-half years are already being used as material for true if rudimentary human thinking, working by means of such humble universals as cookie-in-general and food-in- general towards greater and greater degrees of abstraction and generalization, towards true human perception into God's designs of the universe as they are shown in concrete objects. And, at the same time, his rudimentary human thinking is already being used as the means towards rudimentary human actions--towards seeing a general good embodied in an actual object, making a plan, choosing the means and finally taking the action necessary to achieve that good. He has not yet reached the full use of his reason and free will--but he is certainly well on the way towards it!

What is he up to now? Everything is suspiciously quiet in the living room. Wouldn't you know it? He has a box of matches, the most fascinating kind of forbidden fruit in the whole house. He is sitting solemnly on the couch pushing the box in and out of the case. There they go--he pushed it too far that time, and the matches are all over the couch and the floor. "Oh, oh!" he says in comic imitation of my own tones on such occasions. He picks up one match and tries to put it back in the wrong part of the match-box. Now one in the other. That doesn't seem to be going so well; he stands up and starts shoving the matches one by one back of the couch. He hears me coming, looks up at me and says "Oh, oh!" again. He pretends that he has no connection at all with this sad state of the matches...What can we do about it, Mummy?

"Thomas Edmund, you know you shouldn't have taken those matches, that's bad!" He looks away, his bright little face puckers up, he is almost on the verge of tears. "Come on, fellow, help me put them in the box." He brightens up and offers me matches from all sides. "No, of course you can't have the box again. How about a swing?" He scrambles down from the couch, goes over to the swing expectantly, tries to get on it by himself, finds himself on the floor, looks up at me and laughs. "Here we go, now." I get the swing behind him, help his two small hands to grab the ropes, put the board under his rear. A gentle push and he is off. He hangs on for dear life, smiling a determined smile of effortful pleasure, and sings a tuneless song...back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...

He may not have the full use of his reason or freewill, but he certainly has the rudiments of a conscience. He knows he should not grab match-boxes. He feels guilty even before I find him with one, and even guiltier when I do. He is sorry and hurt when I scold him, and he wants to make everything all right with me right away...

So I should not complain about all the getting up and the interruptions and the endless minor complexities of minding the baby, since every waking hour of his day is thus evidently a practice session for human living. In all his funny and infuriating and pathetic activities he is discovering and exercising and beginning to coordinate his powers of body and mind and soul toward the time when he will be capable of a fully human action, of choosing to do something or not to do it according to right reason, and of acting on that choice--his senses and muscles and emotions and tendencies all subordinate in act to his mind and his will. And, thank God, while he is discovering the strength of the disintegration and perversity in himself caused by original sin-- "the evil that I will not, that I do"--at the same time, he will be discovering the power of grace to help him overcome it. Now he is sorry for having offended Mummy, but in time he will be sorry for having offended God. Now he wants Mummy to love him and be pleased with him, but in time, with God's help, he will seek only God's good pleasure...

For there are further powers wrapped up in that small human person swinging so sedately over there on the swing, supernatural powers which are waiting for the ordinary human development of his mind and will to be ready for exercise and growth. Because of his Baptism, this little boy will be capable not only of human action, but of Christian action. He will be able to make choices not only in the light of right reason, but in the light of faith. He will be able to act on his choices not only by the power of his own will, but with the power of God's Own Love, Charity. He will be able not only to know himself and his capabilities and weaknesses, but to know himself in the light of God's mercy and to hope in it. And, with God's help, the grace given him at Baptism and its wonderful powers will prove the fruitful seed of life everlasting, of sharing God's Own Happiness, of seeing and loving God Himself for all eternity. All this present existence of playing with toys, getting in and out of boxes, falling down and swinging, learning not to do what Mummy says not to do and to do what she says to do--all the unimportant attempts and achievements and tragedies which make up a small boy's life--are the first steps towards future actions which can affect the whole world, the actions of a Christian, a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, whose every work and deed and suffering and joy can be intelligently and lovingly and willingly united to Christ's and so help to save his own soul and those of his fellow-men for the glorious life of eternity.

And Mummy, who feels so sorry for herself so often, is really in the amazing position of assistant coach, helping the future athlete of Christ in his first exercises--assistant to the Holy Spirit, the Trainer and Sanctifier of Christians! Mummy has the job of helping little Thomas to develop human habits of right and loving action which the Holy Spirit will transform with those supernatural habits of faith, hope and charity, of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, already rooted in little Thomas' faculties by Baptism, flowing forth from the divine life then given to his soul. By helping little Thomas to find out how to eat with a spoon, how to swing on a swing, how to climb up and down stairs, how to take a tumble with a smile, Mummy is helping to make him ready to cooperate to his fullest human capacity with the Gifts which the Holy Spirit will give him in fullness at his Confirmation, which will make him easy and skillful in the super-human actions of the Christian life. Surely, then, even in the seemingly endless and wearing and humble job of helping a little boy to gain the simple physical habits and skills of ordinary human living, the light and grace of the Holy Spirit will not be lacking to his imperfect and unskilled assistants, Thomas Edmund's parents.

Thomas Edmund is tired of his swing. He slips off it without a bump and looks at me expectantly. "Heavens, yes, Thomas Edmund, look at the time! Come on, we have to pick up your toys first. Throw them all in, that's the spirit." The future co-worker with Christ is perfectly willing, for the moment, to be a co-worker with Mummy. "Look, there's that woolly lamb over there, get him too. All right, shut the lid. Now let's get to work on your bath!"


What a Baby is for

THOMAS EDMUND has got down from his watch-tower, an overturned wooden box, and apparently has decided to tidy up the porch--it certainly needs it, since I forgot to bring his toys in last night. He takes the rather drastic method of pushing everything under the railing out into the gutter. There go the little blue car and a couple of clothes-pins and the wheel of the hobby-horse and several twigs. Now his poor rubber doll. No, that won't go under. Thomas Edmund tries to push it through, but it bounces back again. He looks around, annoyed but not defeated. Oh dear, he has found that larger opening where the railings cross. There goes the doll too, with such force that it flies out over the edge and down to the sidewalk. Thomas Edmund tries to peer after it. "Oh, oh!" he says, awed at his own power.

Now he is attacking the wooden box itself--surely he isn't going to try to throw that out! He succeeds in moving it a foot or two, but fortunately he is distracted from any further efforts by the sight of the damp place where the box was standing. He bends over, examines it critically, makes noises at it. Then he looks all around, but he doesn't seem to find what he wants. He gives a deep sigh, as of one who is going to do his duty in spite of everything, squats down, and begins to wipe with both hands. Oh, Thomas, don't do that! Help, paper towels to the rescue! Thank goodness I caught him before he got any dirtier...He submits to having his hands cleaned off, takes the extra paper towel with a smile and goes right back to work as soon as I leave him, busily wiping up the non-existent water.

At last he is satisfied. What now? Are all the toys gone? No, those big orange blocks are still over in the corner. I do hope he won't try to throw them out too! But the tidying-up impulse seems to have spent itself. He sits down and begins to put one block carefully on another. "Ahh!" he remarks--and another. But three blocks is too many; over they go, and he starts his building again.

Whatever he may do when he grows up, Thomas Edmund certainly shows already some instinct and aptitude for man's work as Maker, for the ordering and re-shaping of material things for the good of his fellow-men and the glory of God. And it is a good thing that he does, since, whatever his special vocation, he will undoubtedly have to wash dishes and tidy up rooms and throw out garbage. As a normal little boy, he will whittle and paint and make model trains and airplanes and tinker with machinery. And, please God, as a normal man, he will go on making things of one sort or another all his life long, with increasing wisdom and skill, even if he does not become a specialist in making, like a farmer or a ditch-digger or a furniture-maker, or a bridge-builder; or a specialist in ordering things, like a garbage-collector or a supply expert, or a train-dispatcher, or a doctor...

Look, he actually has six of his seven blocks all piled up. He is putting the last one on top. Oh dear, what a crash. Poor Thomas Edmund! He howls with rage and frustration. He kicks the blocks and then throws them wildly all over the porch. Horrid old blocks, mean old blocks not to do what Thomas Edmund wants!

I suppose that if I were a proper mother, I would rush right out and console him. Or would I? He has to learn sometime, or rather to keep on learning all his life, that matter won't do everything he wants it to, that it has its own laws, including the law of gravity, and that men only make things successfully by obeying those laws and thus adapting them to their own use. If I were to go out and comfort him every time things don't do what he wants, he might never lose his baby notion that it is the things' fault and not his...Still, I do wish he would stop yelling...Now he is banging on the screen door with both strong little fists, but Mummy isn't going to pay any attention. He sits down dejectedly on the door-sill. Poor little Man the Maker!

But solace is not far to find. He sees the cracker that I left for him on the arm of the big chair. He stops weeping, picks up his refreshment and climbs into the chair to eat it. Now he is standing up and pointing. What in the world? "Gaaa! " he says loudly, "Gaaa! "

Mrs. Smith next door, out sweeping her sidewalk, looks up and sees him. "Hi, Thomas," she says, "Look out, you'll fall down." "Gaa!" he says again, and points even more determinedly. She looks all around, sees the doll he threw over the edge, picks it up and shows it to him. "AII!" he agrees, smiling. The bell rings. "Here is Tommy's doll," says kind Mrs. Smith. "He seems to want it." Thomas Edmund knows quite well that his persuasions have been successful; he is ready at the porch door to get his doll. "Say thank you to Mrs. Smith," and he trots over to the railing and waves. And now, of course, she will pick up the next toy he throws out too.

But since part of his work when he grows up will be to rule people as well as to make things, he might as well begin to learn now that you get other people to do what you want by persuasion and tact and pleasantness rather than by yelling. He has a long way to go before he can begin to govern even himself--that first job of the Christian ruler--so successfully that he can both put blocks on one another with wisdom and skill, and that he will not lose his temper and howl when they do fall down--whether his grown-up blocks will be bricks and stones, or plans for a re-organization of the United Nations. And he has an even longer way to go before he knows how to rule other people for their good, rather than for his--not to get his toys picked up, but for the good of those over whom he has authority, for the good of society and the Church and the glory of God. Yet he will have to learn both these lessons if he is to fulfill his whole Christian calling, for all vocations include ruling oneself, and almost all vocations include the use of authority over others--even the temporary vocations of school traffic-cop or the manager of a team, and obviously those of parent and office-manager and coach and teacher and foreman. And God might want our Thomas to specialize in the ruler's vocation--as a policeman, or a Catholic action organizer, or a politician, or an administrator for Church or state. (At that, he often looks exactly like a certain late eminent Prince of the Church right now!) Hi there, little Ruler. You certainly have far too much success in ruling Daddy and Mummy as it is!

He is back on his box again, banging his rubber doll against the wire netting and shouting loudly with joy. (I think he is trying to imitate Jonjo's singing of "The Farmer in the Dell," but only a mother could even suspect such a musical intention.) Gracious, what lung power. Maybe he is going to be a hog-caller...Thank God, we have no neighbors who object to children's making a racket...But surely not even the most nervous and peace-loving old bachelor could dislike such a very joyful noise unto the Lord. Surely everyone who hears Thomas Edmund at his Lauds must smile and feel glad that at least one little boy in this tired world has such a lot of energy and is enjoying life so completely.

For our Thomas already fulfills loudly, even though unconsciously, his Christian vocation as spokesman for the joy of creation and witness to God's love. He joins the birds at dawn to tell us that it is a new day, and that life is good. He exclaims over the kitties and dogs and rays of sunshine and garbage trucks that come in and out of his life as the pleasing and astonishing works of God and man that they really are. And when he and Jonjo join in their Evensong (or perhaps one should say, Even-shout), surely Our Lady must be pleased to add their odd harmonies to her heavenly Magnificat and so present their Vesper praise to God.

Thomas Edmund can now praise God simply by expressing himself and his feelings. But as he grows up, he will need to learn to express not himself, but Christ; to witness to Him and to speak for, to "prophesy" Him in all that he is and all that he does. He will have to learn to speak for Christ not only in shouts of joy, but in intelligible words, so as to be able to give anyone who may ask him a "reason for the hope that is in him." What an amount of work lies ahead of you, little Thomas, work of learning God's truth in all orders of reality, work of learning how to express that truth clearly and persuasively, work of docility to the light and grace of the Holy Spirit. But what a wonderful aspect of your Christian vocation is this--to radiate Christ in word and work and life, so that your family and friends and neigh- bors and fellow-workmen may come to know and love and serve Him more fully. God might, of course, call you to a special work as His prophet- -to speak for Christ in stone or paint or music or written words, or to teach some aspect of His truth in schools or colleges or forums. And-- the idea is not so fantastic as it would have seemed fifty years ago-- God might even call you to witness to Christ with your own life and blood...

What a range of possibilities lie ahead of that funny gnome-like Thomas out there on the porch, shouting and banging his doll--possibilities rooted at once in the structure of his human nature and in the gift of sharing in the divine nature given him at Baptism, vocations to human life and work which are also, by God's grace, vocations to His Own life and work, to cooperating with Him in building up the Mystical Body of Christ. For our small son was made to the image of God the Maker, and re-made at Baptism to the image of Christ, King and Ruler, Prophet and Priest of all mankind. At his Confirmation, when he is anointed once again with that Holy Chrism "with which Thou didst anoint Kings, Priests, Prophets and Martyrs," he will be "penetrated through and through with the kingly, priestly and prophetic honor" of Christ's Own anointing, and so, "clothed with the vestment of an incorruptible gift of honorable office." What special talents God may have given him, what special use He wants him to put them to, are hidden in the plans of His Providence; but God has already called my Thomas Edmund by Baptism and will formally empower and commission him by Confirmation to be a maker, a ruler, a prophet and a priest, in Christ and for Christ.

How glorious a future lies before this little boy, if he and we only cooperate with God's designs for him--whether in terms of material success he seems to "get ahead" or not. He may become a shoe-maker or the builder of a great cathedral, a policeman or President of the United States, a teacher of small children or a famous preacher; but if he cooperates with God's grace, he will have a truly successful career. For God has "chosen him out in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to be a saint, to be blameless in His sight for love of Him, marking him out beforehand, so His will decreed, to be His adopted child through Jesus Christ...In Him it is his lot to be called, singled out beforehand to suit His purpose...to manifest His glory." We parents wish for the best for our children in the future, yet how much better than our best hopes for them are God's Own plans...

But the future maker, ruler and prophet is suddenly tired out. He sways on his perch with sleepiness, and rubs his tired eyes with one unskillful hand, overcome all at once with so much fresh air and exercise. Come on, old man, it is high time for your nap. As he hears the door opening, he scrambles down from the box and runs over to Mummy with open arms. But, as I stoop to lift him up, he has another idea. He goes back, retrieves his doll and holds it out to me with a seraphic smile. Then he sees a piece of his cracker, fallen under the chair. He fetches it also, and, as I pick him up, he tries to shove it in my mouth. Oh thank you, dearest. What an embarrassment of riches for one mother!

But how wonderful it is that Thomas Edmund does love me and does want to show his love by gifts, even so embarrassing a present as this wet dirty piece of cracker. For, included in whatever else God may call him to be and to do, will be the vocation to give: to give himself to God and to his fellow-men for the love of God, since this is the only way in which he can receive all that God wants to give him. He has already been made a member of the royal priesthood of the Church. And as soon as he knows that he is anything and has anything and that God gave it to him, he can begin to give it back to God in the offering of the bread and wine at Mass, to be taken up into Christ's Own Sacrifice. He can begin to make all his work and play and joy and suffering into an offering to God in union with Christ's Own Offering; begin to make himself and his work worthy of being so offered, and thus to praise and thank God, to make reparation to Him, and to win graces for himself and for the whole world, as a member of Christ's Body, taking part in His Own Work of Sacrifice. Perhaps God has even planned to call our Thomas Edmund to His ordained priesthood, to be His special representative to His people. Wouldn't that be something, little dirty-face?

He has submitted with good grace to having his out-door suit pulled off, first the arms, then the seat and the legs, saying "Oh!" in surprise and delight to each hand and foot as it emerges quite unscathed from the ordeal. All right, old fellow, upstairs we go.

Obediently he trots ahead and begins his toilsome ascent. Please God, he will be as docile all his life to God's Will as he is just now to this particular demand of the day's routine. Please God he will be as willing both to do things and to have things done to him, just as God wishes. How hard we must pray and work and trust in God to help our little son to become what God wants him to be, and never to be false to his marvelous Christian vocation, so that finally, when God ordains, he will be as ready to "sleep in Christ" as he is now to sleep in his crib, and so to waken to the joy of His Lord.

The shoes are off, his face and hands are washed. He has had a drink of water and has been given a blue truck and a red fire-engine for company. He lies down in his crib with a little sigh and smiles at the blanket coming over to cover him. Pull down the shades, open the window, shut the door softly. Have a good nap, my little Christian, and God bless you!


Baptism and Confirmation

PEACE descends upon the kitchen. Four-year-old Jonjo, having burst in like a small tornado to demand apples for himself and his friends, has gone clattering down the stairs, banging the door behind him. The potatoes at last are peeled and bubbling on the stove, in spite of two telephone calls and one ring at the door-bell. The water is running into the set-tub, and Thomas Edmund has stopped yelling, for he knows that now, at last, Mummy is going to attend exclusively to him. And about time too, say the big tears shining on his cheeks. Why should a baby have to wait for his bath until everything else is done when he is obviously the most important person in the house?

Up in my lap, he pushes impatiently at his shoes. What a bunch of knots, and how slow Mummy is about untangling them! He gives one small blue sock its final yank off his foot and allows a slow smile to dawn reluctantly on his wet and dirty countenance. With the second sock, woe is forgotten. He holds it up to me and laughs. What a clever baby to take his own socks off! The arms go up for the removal of jersey and undershirt, and, as I hold him up in the air, he kicks and wriggles until his pants and diaper fall to the floor in a heap. He squirms almost out of my arms in his anxiety to get into the tub, but at last he is safely planted on both feet and happily surrounded by water. When I have moved the paper towel overhead out of reach, and given him his rubber doll and the tea-strainer (so useful for trying to pour water over oneself) and an old thermometer case and the wash-cloth, I can stop for a minute to rest.

Gracious, Thomas, such eagerness to get into your bath..."as the hart pants after the fountains of water." ...If only your soul grows up to pant after God with anything like the same eagerness! If the composers of the Liturgy had been Mothers of the Church rather than Fathers, perhaps that first prayer at the Blessing of the Baptismal Font would read: "Look mercifully at the devotion of the people who are about to be born anew, who, like babies desiring their baths, cry for the fountain of Thy waters." For small children always want to get into any kind of water, baths or puddles or rivers, and the babies of the early Church probably were just as eager to get wet as ours are...

Perhaps children have some unspoiled instinct about the wonderfulness of water, to make them so anxious to get into it at every appropriate and inappropriate moment--water that "the Spirit of God moved over in the very beginning of things, that already then it might receive the power of sanctification"; water that "God made to flow from the fountain of Paradise, and commanded to water the whole earth with its four rivers": that God used in the Flood to "wash away the crimes of the guilty world, and to give a pre-figuring of the cleansing of Baptism, that the same element might in this mystery be the ending of vice and the origin of virtue"; water that Our Lord changed into wine at Cana, that He sanctified for all future Baptisms by being Himself baptized with it; water, that He allowed to flow out of His Side on the Cross together with His Blood; water, that He uses all over the world "for the renewal of the nations" in the Sacrament of Baptism. The Church loves water also, or she would not talk about it and to it so beautifully at the Blessing of a Font, or use it as she does in her other blessings, or bless it specially for our use at home and abroad, so that "everything it sprinkles may be cleansed and delivered from harm...and that the presence of the Holy Spirit may be with us." If God and His Church think so much of water, no wonder that children do too!

But Thomas Edmund is now appreciating the water in his tub much too thoroughly. He has managed to turn the tap on, and is making the kitchen glad with its streams" (from his point of view at least) by sticking his finger up the hole so that the water will spray all over him and everything else. Hey, young man, I'm sorry to spoil your fun, but we don't want to start our own Flood! Anyhow, I have to wash your face now, and it is the day for hairwashing too.

Oh dear, what a struggle. How strange it is that children like water so much and so hate to be washed with it--especially to have their faces and heads washed. Every time we do Jonjo's hair, I feel sure that all the neighbors will come running in to stop the murder. You are making quite a lot of noise yourself, Thomas Edmund. Look, guy, it will all be over in a minute; just put your head back and I'll rinse the soap out. Now I'll dry your face. See, you are still very much alive! Poor Thomas Edmund, he looks so chastened and ashamed of himself, with his scalp clean and pink and his yellow locks all plastered down. He stands still meekly while I give a preliminary rub with the towel. All right, old man, now you can play in the lovely water for a while before I finish your bathing.

Thank God, young Thomas didn't behave as badly as he did just now when he had the great Washing of his life--his Baptism. In fact, he was a model baby, I was told, though I find it hard to believe...But perhaps the fact that children so hate to be washed is some faint indication of the meaning of all those Baptismal exorcisms. If a baby so thoroughly dislikes to have his skin cleansed, how much must the old Adam of unregenerate human nature hate to have its whole essence cleansed and purified. If a baby so resents the assault of a washcloth on his face, how much must fallen human nature resent the assault of the Spirit of God, "the Sanctifier of spiritual waters," coming to take it out of itself and into the life of the Blessed Trinity. Not to speak of the frightening thought that devils somehow have power over an unbaptized baby--and how much they must hate to be driven out and away by the Baptismal exorcisms to make place for the Holy Spirit...

Come on, Thomas Edmund, we had better finish this bath or you will catch cold. I'll scrub your doll too, to make up for that hair-washing. Thomas loves to see his doll get clean. He smiles and rubs himself as I rub it. Now both of you are pink and shining. Let's get out.

But he hates to be taken out of his bath as much as he liked to be put in. He struggles and kicks and yells with rage. What a slippery, heavy baby to wrestle with! At last I am sitting down with him safely on my lap, and restraining towels all around him. Look, old man, you will have another bath tomorrow and it will be just as satisfactory as this one!

How fortunate it is for dirt-collecting human nature that we can have daily baths for our skins and the Sacrament of Penance for our souls, that only the Bath of Baptism is unique. And of course, Baptism is not simply a bathing of the soul. It is a birth as well, and we can only be born once to one kind of life:--once to natural life, once to supernatural life, and then our final birthday to the life of glory in heaven. Thomas Edmund's bath washes off the day's dirt and he needs another bath the next day. But in his Baptism all the stains of human nature's original sin were washed away, and that only needs to be done once. After his daily bath, he looks like himself again for a short time, a nice clean little boy; but after his Baptism, his "human nature, made to the image of God, was re-made to the glory of its original Pattern"; he was re-born of water and the Holy Spirit; he became a new creature, a child of God...

The little twice-born Thomas is now dry; and suddenly he has become pleased and peaceful and ready to play. He holds the towel over his head. Where is Thomas Edmund? And when he cannot bear the suspense any longer, he pulls it down and laughs at being found. How kind of our Father in heaven to consider how His human children feel after baths, good and pleasant and peaceful, and to make the Sacrament of our re-birth to His Life also a bath, so that we can realize something of what it has done for us. From the physical and mental effects of an ordinary bath, we can even realize in some dim fashion how the cleansing and re-birth of the Baptismal Bath is also a death and a resurrection, plunging us, immersing us in the Death of Christ, so that we may live by His Risen Life. By his Baptism, my little Thomas has already, in the very roots of his being, suffered and died and been buried together with Christ, has risen and ascended with Him to the life of heaven. It will take his whole life and God's infinite mercy to work out the tremendous consequences of that dying and that living into which he has been incorporated, until he is entirely dead to sin and all its consequences, until he is entirely alive with the life of Christ. Not even when he dies to physical life, and, by God's mercy, the life of grace which his soul has been living on earth flowers into the life of glory in heaven--not even then will the Baptismal process be complete. Only when, on the Last Day, the bodies of the just are raised up according to the pattern of Our Lord's Risen Body and re-united with their glorious souls, only then will the Sacrament of Baptism have achieved its final purpose, have realized its full effects. Only then will little Thomas be entirely alive with the life of the Risen Christ, only then will he become what God intends him to be, a perfect member of the fully grown, fully perfected Mystical Body of Christ. But the seed of that future glory has already been implanted in him. Here he is, one little boy on my lap. A little boy--and a great mystery!

But Thomas Edmund thinks that the evening's ceremony should proceed. He is reaching impatiently for the baby-oil bottle. This is the one time of day when he is allowed to play with it, and he makes the most of his opportunity, trying to put the top on and take it off again, while I anoint his newly-washed head and then the rest of him... "Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over..." "I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him..." "Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows..." How much easier it is to appreciate the use of oil in Holy Scripture and in the Liturgy of the Church when you have oiled a baby! Here is Thomas's "face made glad with oil." ...Yet that sentence sounds so odd when you first come across it in the Psalm or in the Consecration of Holy Chrism. I suppose the reason is that we usually call oil something else nowadays when we are using it for soothing or healing or beautifying ourselves--"Miracle Salve," or "My Magic Face-Cream." We hardly realize that what we are using is really oil of some kind--and probably not nearly so pure and pleasant a substance as the olive oil they used in the ancient world and that the Church uses today. Yet, when you come to think of it, even Holy Chrism, that greatest of the Church's Holy Oils, is, in physical composition, much like our baby-oil or salves or beauty preparations. Holy Chrism is made up of olive-oil and balsam; all these modern inventions are made up of something oily and something sweet- smelling. It isn't the oil of the Church's Holy Oils that is mysterious--it is the holiness.

Thomas is cooing happily over the oil-bottle. Now for his chest-rub, which provokes wild wriggles and cries of delight...Careful, old man, we don't want oil all over the kitchen. You are certainly now a completely anointed baby! How wonderful that God should have used this same cool pleasant substance that makes my Thomas' skin so smooth and supple for the solemn anointings of His Kings and Priests and Prophets, for the vehicle of His grace to make men into Kings, Priests and Prophets. In fact Our Lord's title of office, the Christ, means the Anointed One. And the "oil of gladness" with which He was anointed, as it says in the Preface of the Feast of Christ the King, was the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Oil begins to seem like an even more wonderful substance than water when you think about what God has made it symbolize and do...

Little Thomas was given oil-baths in the hospital when he was too small and weak to be bathed in water: the Church anoints her future members with the Oil of Catechumens even before they are baptized. Here I am rubbing him now with baby-oil to make his skin supple and sweet-smelling after his bath: the Church anoints us with Holy Chrism just after we are baptized, so that we may grow up strong in Christ and spread around us the pleasant odor of God's grace. Athletes are rubbed with oil before their struggles: the Church anoints us in Confirmation to make us "strong and perfect Christians and soldiers of Jesus Christ," and she anoints her priests and bishops for their future work. I put oily salve on Thomas Edmund when he gets chapped or chafed--and the Church anoints us with the Oil of the Sick in the healing Sacrament of Extreme Unction. And by these holy "oilings" we are given a share in Our Lord's Own Anointing; above all when we are anointed with Holy Chrism which has been "mingled with the virtue of the Holy Spirit and the power of Christ from Whose holy Name it receives its Name..."

Happy little Christian, Thomas Edmund! You already share in Our Lord's royal and priestly anointing by virtue of your Baptism. You will be confirmed in that share by your Confirmation. Perhaps God has even planned for you to receive that far greater share given by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Perhaps your eager hands, now so small and fat, will some day as grown-up strong man's hands receive that special priestly anointing so that "whatever they bless will be blessed and whatever they consecrate will be consecrated and sanctified in the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ." And even--it is possible, though one hardly dares to think of it --your round yellow head, now shining visibly with baby-oil and invisibly with the Holy Chrism of your Baptism, may be once again and completely anointed with that Chrism in the fullness of Christ's Priesthood as a Bishop of holy Church! And then, at the end of your life, please God, will come that Last Anointing, Extreme Unction, to cleanse and heal you of all the scars and weaknesses left by life's struggles, to strengthen you for the final battle of an athlete of Christ, to anoint you for the glory of heaven. Gracious, Thomas Edmund, no wonder you like oil so much, even that smelly cod-liver oil which you welcome so eagerly every morning!

Thomas is almost dressed now in his clean white shirt and clean white pajamas. Why, even this procedure is like that of his Baptism, when he was given a white garment after he had been washed in the holy waters of the Font and anointed with Holy Chrism. How scriptural is a baby's bathing, and how sacramental! "Receive this white garment, and see that you carry it unstained before the judgment-seat of Our Lord Jesus Christ." (It is a good thing that that admonition refers to the whiteness of the soul, not of the body or the clothes--or little boys wouldn't have a chancel) We have the outward sign of that spiritual clothing, the little white garment given him at his Baptism, upstairs safe in his bureau, ready to show him later on and to use in teaching him about his Baptism. His god-father said that Thomas Edmund looked so like a little deacon in it that he realized for the first time that Baptism really does give one a share in Christ's priesthood. So outward signs have their value, even for well-educated grownups who have taken all kinds of courses in philosophy and in doctrine! And I should certainly realize that fact, I who am just beginning to appreciate holy water and holy oil through my bathing of Thomas Edmund!

There you are, young man, all washed and oiled and dressed and ready for your supper. For a few minutes at least, your outside will be a visible sign of your holy baptized little self, washed in the waters of Baptism, anointed with Holy Chrism, clothed with the garments of salvation, ready for the Food of the Holy Eucharist on earth and for the eternal banquet of heaven. Up in your high-chair. Now, let's eat.


The Holy Eucharist

THOMAS EDMUND is ensconced in his high-chair, impatiently watching the preparations for his evening meal. He bangs his spoon on the tray and throws it on the floor, reaches desperately for the honey-jar on the table and finally stands up in his chair and pretends that he is going to walk right over the edge if his food doesn't come. Poor starved little boy--nobody would know from the way you are acting that you had a large lunch at twelve o'clock and ever so many crackers and pieces of apple in between!

Pacified for a moment by having his bib tied around his chin, he condescends to sit down again, tapping one small red-slippered foot impatiently against his chair, like a great executive kept waiting for a conference. Here is your applesauce, little Mogul, and the cereal and the milk. Something still missing? Oh, a spoon. All right, go to it.

Digging into the applesauce, he aims the spoon in the general direction of his mouth. The spoon turns over on its journey and most of the sauce goes on his bib, but enough reaches its destination to make him quite happy. In fact, he looks surprised when I rescue the rest and present it to him. Nothing daunted, he digs in again and manages to keep the spoon right side up this time. That's the technique, Thomas...Now for a little cereal?

How astonishing it is that these semi-liquids which my son is consuming so rapidly should turn into such solid Thomas-Edmund flesh and blood and bones. They don't look as if they could. And yet hundreds of bottles of milk and cases of baby-food and packages of crackers have already gone to make up that compact twenty-seven-odd pounds of baby, the marvelous unconscious chemistry of his body taking what it needed out of all these substances and using it for the repair and growth and development of all the organs of his complex little mechanism. By the time he is full grown, what various kinds and enormous amounts of edibles and drinkables will have been part of our Thomas, will have contributed to the make-up of his manhood's physical stature. To think of the mere quantities involved is almost overwhelming. And yet, how wonderful it is that all these materials from the mineral and vegetable and animal orders of creation are necessary to compose and maintain a human body!

And not only a human body, but human activity also. This harmless, bland, inert applesauce and cereal and milk here on the tray is on its way towards transformation into dynamic Thomas-Edmund energy. It will provide the fuel for his racing around, for his sudden rages, for his laughter. It will provide the physical force he needs for his growth-- not only his growth in age, but also in wisdom, and, ultimately in grace. For if he did not have his food and the right kinds of food, his body would die and his baptized soul would go straight to heaven. But it would not remain on earth to grow and develop with and beyond his body's development; he could not grow up to know and love and act as a Christian man on earth...Oh Thomas Edmund, I wish you were old enough to understand that this is the reason why I make you eat that dull cereal and milk as well as the enticing applesauce--to make sure that you will have a sound body and thus build a more secure foundation for a sound mind and a sound soul!

My son looks at me doubtfully as I point out the almost untouched cereal bowl. Come on, young man, that cereal has to go inside you, and you know it, before you get your bread and butter. It certainly does not have the "sweetness of every taste" as did the manna God sent from heaven, but it does have the goodness of every kind of food. For it is made up of all sorts of unexpected substances that science says will make bigger and better Thomas Edmunds--beefbone and iron and phosphorus and alfalfa...if you look at the list of ingredients on its box, you have a vision of the whole United States contributing to make those stupid-looking little flakes, you see a whole continent helping to feed one Thomas Edmund.

And here is another strange thing about food:--we have to have it, but we cannot provide it for ourselves. Thomas Edmund needs air as much as he needs food, but he can get all the air he wants simply by breathing. Yet he cannot get all the food he needs, even by screaming. He has to get it from me, and I have to get it from the grocer, who has to get it from truck-drivers who bring it from trains and boats and wholesalers, who get it from processers who get it from farmers and dairy-men and apple-growers and fishermen, who get it from the earth or the sea--and from God. What a complicated long chain of man's working and God's providing to feed Thomas Edmund his supper!

And even if he grows up to be a "self-subsistent" farmer, even then he would not feed himself entirely all by himself. He will always be dependent for some of the food he needs on God's bounty and the earth's--and probably on all sorts of other people as well. Even the Miller of Dee--"I care for nobody, no, not I, and nobody cares for me"- -even he must have bought the wheat for his mill from somebody else and sold his flour to other people and bought all kinds of food from them too, or he wouldn't have had the energy to sing about his lack of charity!

But why should God have arranged things in this way, so that we have to have food to live and act and grow, and yet are dependent for it, not only on Him and nature, but on so many other human beings? What about all the starving Thomas Edmunds in the world today?

Hey, there, wait a minute! Thomas Edmund has dropped his spoon right in the middle of the cereal dish and is reaching for his glass of milk. All right, young man, here it is; let me hold it until it is emptier...No, not so fast, you might drown in it. He chokes, gets red in the face, and looks at me pathetically. I pat him on the back, and we resume the drinking operations. His round red cheeks move rhythmically in big gulps...Enough? He pushes the glass away with his own royal gesture of rejection. I pick up the spoon, clean it off, and give it back to him. Here you are, now keep going. He digs in again, looks at me, smiles, and holds out a spoonful. Oh thank you, Thomas, but that's your supper, not mine. He tries again, with laughing insistence, until I have to take a taste.

Of course here is the answer: Thomas Edmund wants to feed as well as to be fed: if we all acted on that idea when we grew up, God would certainly see to it that we had enough to feed each other with. If we all worked, not so much to "make a living" for ourselves as to help other people to live, then the enormous and unreasonable complexities of modern civilization would resolve themselves into the ordered interdependence of charity, into the true civilization of the City of God. But perhaps if we did not need to eat, then we might begin to think of ourselves as really self-subsistent in the wrong, inhuman sense--independent both of other people and of God. If we did not have to work and pray together for our daily bread, we might forget even more easily than we do the greater necessity of working and praying together for the coming of His Kingdom.

The applesauce has almost vanished and so has the cereal, at least from their respective saucers. Some of them must have gone inside Thomas Edmund, even though so much is still outside him on his face and his bib and the whole surrounding landscape. There is even some sticky substance in my own hair. If the "Good is what is diffusive of itself" as we learned in college, then cereal and applesauce and milk must be amazingly good things! All right, old man, now clean up the plates while I get your bread.

When I return with the final course of his supper, he has one saucer held out to me precariously in each small hand. What's the hurry, Thomas? here it is. This is the climax of all his meals, the piece of bread he is allowed only after he has finished everything else. He snatches it off the plate as soon as it comes near enough; he chuckles with pleasure; his small white teeth bite happily into the crust. It seems like an odd taste for a baby so to enjoy bread buttered or unbuttered, with jelly or without; yet ever since he has been allowed to have it, he has rated it high above all his other foods. (Of course he insists on something like real bread--the crusty Italian or French kind, or home-made. I wish we could ask a priest to come to the house whenever I get around to making bread, so that he could bless the new loaves with that beautiful prayer: "O Lord Jesus Christ, bread of angels, living bread unto eternal life, bless this bread as Thou didst bless the five loaves in the wilderness; that all who eat it with reverence may through it attain to the corporal and spiritual health they desire..." Perhaps Thomas Edmund could be excused from the "reverence" just yet!)

But our child's taste is very sound. After all, bread has always been thought of as the food in our whole tradition; perhaps he has some inherited instinct for appreciating it as the staple food, the norm of other foods, and one whose name is most used to stand for food-in-general. "Give us this day our daily bread." If Thomas Edmund could pray, he would certainly ask God with great fervor for this blessing in its literal and limited meaning! Look at his absorption of that one piece; I don't see how he can get it down so fast!

"Man does not live by bread alone," little Thomas. Yet surely your appreciation of ordinary bread is a fine foundation and foreshadowing of future hunger and love for the Living Bread, the True Bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Our Lord would not have compared Himself to and made Himself into bread for His children, if ordinary bread had not been a very good thing to begin with. He must want us to appreciate our own common daily bread thoroughly, in order to come to an appreciation of His.

And, of course, bread is the most food-like of all foods. Its materials come from God; they have to be cultivated by men and made into bread by men (or women!). Edible wheat does not grow wild; we have to receive this gift of God's bounty by way of human work. And even in the most self-subsistent kind of economy, seldom if ever does the same person grow the wheat and harvest it and grind it and mix it and knead it and bake it and eat it. Making bread has always been at least a family, and usually a community affair. Then again, bread is not one substance, like an apple or a piece of meat. It is made up of many grains, which themselves have to be mixed with other substances and, usually, leavened and kneaded as well as baked, until the final result is entirely unlike the original ingredients. So human and so meaningful are the processes of breadmaking that Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church have used them all, from the falling of the wheat into the ground on, to illustrate the most glorious truths of our redemption and sanctification. No wonder, then, that bread, the most food-like food, and wine, the most drink-like drink, have always been used by men as offerings to God. For they represent the whole nourishment of human life and the whole community of human work, and so are best suited of all possible substances to stand for the offering of our lives and our work to God. In fact, God must have planned bread and wine from all eternity to be what they are, so that we could make them our gifts to Him.

But much more than this. In the Mass, Christ Our Lord takes these our gifts and transforms them into His Own Body and Blood offered in Sacrifice to His Father. By a marvelous design of God's Love using our own humble gifts of bread and wine, in each Mass Christ offers us in and with Himself, we offer Him through the hands of His priest, we receive His Body as God's return-Gift in Holy Communion. Little Thomas, you don't know how right you are to enjoy your bread so much, bread that can be transformed by the power of Christ in His priesthood into His Own Body for the salvation of the world. No other substances on earth, save bread and wine alone, have these amazing possibilities...

But now, outside the quiet kitchen, are heard alarums and excursions. Jonjo bursts in, red with excitement, exercise and cold air. "Mummy, can I have some of the baby's cereal...Mummy, can I have the baby's applesauce, Mummy..." Thomas Edmund struggles to get out of his chair. Wait a minute! Calm down, everybody. I lift Thomas Edmund down, fetch two more pieces of bread and give one into each pair of grasping hands. My sons look suspiciously at each other to be sure that each has exactly the same kind and amount of food, sit down solemnly on the floor, side by side, and begin to chew.

Life will certainly be simpler when Jonjo and Thomas Edmund both eat the same food at the same times. If it is unnatural for a grown-up to eat alone, why shouldn't it be equally unnatural for a child? We all eat more and enjoy it more when we are eating with other people and can share ideas and emotions as well as food. (The difficulty with Thomas and Jonjo is that they cannot always share the same food, but they always can share the same naughtiness.) But, after all, the original meaning of "companion" is somebody you share bread with. Perhaps the reason why children and grown-ups both feel that eating should be a social affair is that we want to be "companions" in every sense at once. And another reason might be that since the production of food is social, its consumption ought to be social also. Or is the deepest reason that every human meal is meant to be a reflection, an analogy and a preparation for the banquet of the Holy Eucharist, which is itself a reflection and preparation, pledge and foretaste of the eternal wedding-feast of heaven?

How wonderful it will be when these two little boys, sitting here on the floor and chewing their crusts together in fraternal amity, begin to eat that Living Bread of the Holy Eucharist together. The bread that they are eating now goes to build separate Thomas Edmund or Jonjo body and blood and bones; it contributes itself to their separate lives and energies. But that bread which is meat indeed will enable them more and more completely to live by the life of Christ given them at Baptism, to live by Christ as He lives by His Father. This earthly bread is changed into Jonjo and Thomas Edmund; but that heavenly Bread will slowly transform them into Christ. It will nourish them to grow into more and more perfect, more and more completely alive members of the Mystical Body of Christ. It will make them more one in Christ, uniting them in Him more closely to each other, and to their father and to me and to all Christians. And, by transforming them into Christ, It will make them more perfectly each into his own special self as God wants that self to be...

I can only give them this bread of earth to make them big and strong, but Our Lord has ready for them the Bread of His Word and the Bread of His Own Body, to bring them up to the "measure of the age of the fullness of Christ." I buy and prepare their food from day to day, sometimes conscious of love, sometimes conscious only of fatigue. But Christ is always lovingly saying to all His children on earth, "Come eat my Bread and drink the Wine that I have prepared for you," the Food and Drink that He prepared for us on Calvary and sets out for us every day in His Church through the ministry of His Priests...Hurry and grow up, little boys, so that soon you will be ready for a far better Bread than mine!

The last crumbs are vanishing down the two open mouths. All right, gentlemen, you go see if Daddy's coming while I finish getting supper. Jonjo scrambles to his feet and rushes out; Thomas Edmund patters hard behind, his absurd grey bath-robe flying, his red slippers falling off his feet. How wonderful to have food to prepare for my family, to help God to nourish their bodies so that He Himself may feed their souls! "I will praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, meet to serve for the doing of His Will. His work is honorable and glorious and His righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made a memorial of all His wonderful works; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion: He hath given food to them that fear Him."


The Mystical Body of Christ

MUMMY, watch me, I'm a crocodile," says Jonjo, going down on all fours and making agitated noises. "Look out, I'm going to bite you!" Thomas Edmund, seated in my lap and holding a magazine upside down, is trying to sound like Daddy reading aloud. He interrupts his chant to gaze rather disapprovingly at his older brother's childish antics, and looks at me appealingly, as if to say, "What can we sensible people do with such a lunatic?" But so much noise and confusion is irresistible. He wriggles off my lap and joins in the fray, just as if he knew as much about the habits of crocodiles as Jonjo does from his deep study of them at his kindergarten.

A fine sight is this--two small boys yelping and grunting and crawling around on the floor, the bigger one leading the way, the littler one trying hard to imitate his leader for a minute or two and then simply throwing himself flat on the rug and squealing with joy at sharing such a wonderful game with his brother. As the Psalmist so well says: "Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

What different kinds of little boys they are: Jonjo the athlete and artist, the skillful bicycle-rider and block-builder, with his father's grey-blue eyes, and the long head, long arms and legs and loosely built frame of my family; Thomas Edmund the contemplative and man of action, the gazer-into-space and tidy-up-er, a comic small replica of his father, with wide shoulders, compact body and round head, but with my sister's dark eyes unexpectedly shining out under his yellow forelock. How amazing it is that two little boys with the same father and mother, the same mixture of Irish and English and French and German blood, should yet be so different from one another from the first years of their existence...It makes you want to have dozens of children, just to see what they would be like!

And then to think of all the children here in this block, and in this city and in this country and all over the world, millions and millions and millions of them. They all share the same human nature. They are all sprung from the same original stock of Adam. Yet God made each of them different, created each of them to come to have a special personal relationship with Himself, to know and love and serve Him in a special way that nobody else will do if that one human being doesn't. He has made each of them to reflect His Son, to be another Christ in a special way that nobody else can be, and to be happy with Him for all eternity with a special kind of happiness all his own, so that there will be millions and millions and millions of different kinds of rejoicing in God for all eternity...What a staggering and overwhelming thought! Truly, "according to the heights of Thy Wisdom hast Thou multiplied the children of men."

More amazing than this--God has made these two little boys here on the floor, and all the human beings that ever were or will be, to be different, to be each a special distinct self with his own personality and destiny. But He has also made us all to be dependent on one another, to be bound together in the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ. As He gave us all natural life from one source, from Adam, so He wants to give us all His Own divine Life from one Source, from Christ Our Lord. As He makes us all so different yet of one race by nature, so He wants us all to take different functions, to serve one another and to help to bring one another to the fullness of His Life in the glorious interdependence of the members of the Mystical Body. Two little boys here, millions and millions of little boys and girls all over the world, millions and millions and millions of past and present and future human beings, all made to love and serve God, to help one another in the life of Christ, to build up the Mystical Body of Christ to its final perfection, to be the fullness of Him Who is wholly fulfilled in all. What a great mystery of diversity and unity--and we have it all in miniature right here in our house, our home, our "little Church."

Wild yells from Thomas Edmund. "Jonjo, what is the matter?"

"Mummy, I'm going into my den and I don't want the baby to come in 'cause I might bite him."

"But that's no reason for hitting him. Let him come in with you, there's a good crocodile."

"He's too little, Mummy."

"Well, couldn't he be a little crocodile?" I hold Thomas Edmund, wriggling in suspense, ready to yell again at any minute."

"O.K.," says Jonjo at last. "Come on, baby."

The little crocodile disappears under the table after the big one, and I breathe a sigh of relief. But not for long. There is a scuffle, more cries from Thomas. "What's the matter now?"

"The baby found my ball, Mummy, and he won't let me have it."

"Well, he found it, didn't he?"

"Yes, but it's my ball, Mummy, and I need it."

(From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs?)

"Let him have it for a few minutes, Jonjo, and then it will be your turn."

"But Mummy..."

"Now, Jonjo, I'll have to take it away from both of you if you can't take turns." Oh dear, is it going to be one of those afternoons? Some days seem to be a perfectly hopeless succession of "No, you MUST NOT hit the baby, Jonjo...No, Tom, leave Jonjo alone, those are his blocks"...and it looks as if this were going to be one of them. How often our "little Church" here at home reflects some of the less attractive aspects of external Church history, rather than the inner beauty of the King's daughter!

Thomas Edmund emerges from under the table, ruffled but triumphant, still clutching the ball. Yells from Jonjo following. "Mummy, he won't let me have it." Thomas Edmund drops the ball into my lap and looks expectant.

"Come on, Jonjo, we'll all play with it."

"No, I want it, Mummy..."

"Well, get another ball, then, and you can have this one."

All the fundamental questions of property-rights and private ownership and the common good, all the social and economic problems of mankind seem to arise in miniature every day in one small family. I suppose it has to be so, or family life would not be a training-ground for life in the community of mankind, for life in the society of the Mystical Body of Christ. But it is so wearing on the parents!

How much easier it would have been to bring up children if the Original Sin had not been committed. Then they wouldn't always want what somebody else has got hold of, or the one thing in the room they shouldn't have. Then brothers would really love one another like brothers all the time, even at the ages of four and one-and-a-half. And then in homes and communities and nations and the world everybody would be developing his own talents and each other's, would be building civilization together for the glory of God and for one another's good, instead of what is going on today...

Jonjo reluctantly returns with the big beach-ball for Thomas and me to play with, snatches his own ball out of my lap and goes off into the kitchen, crossly bouncing his private property. I toss the big ball out into the hall, and Thomas pursues it, laughing. He can hardly get his arms around it, but he manages to lift it up and trot back, finally heaving it in my general direction. "That's the boy, come on, catch!" He stands with his legs wide apart, eyes bright with anticipation. "Oh, you missed it!" But here is Jonjo, back again from his sulks, the urge to play with Thomas and me having proved, in so short a time, stronger than the urge to have his own ball all to himself. "Thomas, throw it to Jonjo." Thomas is delighted to try.

"I can throw better than he can, can't I, Mummy," says Jonjo, anxious to re-instate himself in his public's good opinion.

"Yes, dear, but you should. You are lots older than he is. Now you show him how to throw."

What a weary long road it is from learning to take turns with a ball, or come gracefully out of your sulks and join in a game, to the fullness of manly self-giving to God and Christ-giving to others required of a grown-up Christian. Sometimes the whole business of being a parent seems just too difficult. Who am I, who have not yet begun to learn how to serve God lovingly in other people, to teach my children that lesson? If I can't even keep my temper on one of these difficult days when nothing pleases, how can I expect my children to learn Charity? Oh dear, the ball-game isn't going so well. Jonjo is getting bored, and I can't blame him. What on earth will I do with them until Daddy gets home?

But Thomas Edmund suddenly forgets all about the ball. He is down flat on the rug, reaching desperately in under the couch, squirming all over with effort. "Look what he's got, Mummy, the jinglebells!" Sure enough, he has found what my absentminded broom must have missed for several cleanings, two little silver bells on a string, beloved relics of last Christmas that never got put away because they add so much to the household cheer. Jonjo is snatching for them; Thomas Edmund is starting to yell. "Look, Jonjo, let's find your horn and then you and Thomas can march around the way Daddy showed you the other day." Gracious, I hope I can find that horn...Thank God, here it is in the play-box, just where it ought to be. "O.K. boys, here you go. Jonjo, you start off. One, two; one, two!" Jonjo goes ahead proudly, blowing his horn. Thomas Edmund follows, jingling the bells. What a parade of two! Faster and faster, blowing and ringing, then running and chasing and laughing...What a lovely noise of two little boys having a good time together!

So home life isn't all tears and squabbles and making people do what they don't want to. Sometimes Jonjo and Thomas even want to do what they should do! If they aren't unselfish and saintly from their cradles, like those holy children one reads about, well, neither was St. Therese as a child. She wanted everything, she hated to give things up, just like my two little boys. And if Jonjo and Thomas aren't blessed by having a saintly mother, there were a good many saints whose mothers weren't anything extraordinary either. After all, God does not try anyone beyond his strength--not even the mother of two small boys. Sometimes He sends along some jingle-bells to save the situation, even when one hasn't the sense to ask Him for grace and help...The wild game has now calmed down, but the air has been cleared, and Jonjo and Thomas are playing hide-and-seek out in the kitchen with shouts of pleasure. Dear Lord, please make the game last till Daddy gets home!

For of course it is Our Lord Who is the chief Builder of our family society, our little Mystical Body, as He is of the whole Mystical Body throughout the world and time. If I only could remember to ask His help, even in the small crises of daily life, then I wouldn't get into such states of irritation and despair. He became partaker of our humanity to make us sharers in His Divinity. He, the Son of God, became the Son of Our Lady. He became a member of the human family and its new Head, and by His Passion and Death, He enabled us all to become members of His family, the family of God.

So Jonjo and Thomas Edmund are not only brothers by blood; they are brothers in Christ. They both have Christ's life in them to make them able to grow up in Christ, to learn how to act toward each other according to their supernatural as well as their natural brotherhood. Christ Our Lord will Himself bring them together in loving action and mutual service, by His grace, by the Food of the Holy Eucharist, by all the lights and helps and teachers He has ready for them. We, their parents, have only to cooperate in their education with the One Master, not to do it all by ourselves.

If our home were simply a training ground for "universal brotherhood," and if I had to train my children all by myself to become good citizens, then indeed I might despair. But our home is first of all a training-ground for life in the Church on earth and for life eternal in heaven. And while that makes the goal so much higher, it also makes it more accessible. For we, and the children can do all things in Him Who strengthens us.

Baby smiles and shouts and tears and howls, all the endless small struggles and decisions of every day--(Should I let Jonjo keep that toy he has snatched from Thomas or make him give it back? If I give Jonjo a lollipop, will Thomas howl for one too, and should he have it with that upset tummy?)--all these things are, and are meant by God, to make up the initial training of future athletes of Christ, members of Christ called to help Him in redeeming the world. So this business of being a parent is certainly worth all the weariness and weakness. And why should I worry and despair, when Christ Our Lord will certainly take the greater share of His Own Work?

God, Who is Love, allowed that Original Sin to happen, without which it would have been so much easier to bring up my children. But the Church calls it a "happy fault." So God must be bringing more goodness and beauty and joy out of the way things are than would have come out of His first unspoiled creation. Jonjo and Thomas Edmund, who can be such little terrors but are now entertaining each other so pleasantly, must have greater possibilities of life and achievement and joy in time and eternity than unfallen and unredeemed children would have had. Even though their Baptism did not destroy all the disrupting effects of original sin, even though they will have to struggle all their lives long against those effects, even though helping them in their struggle is so wearing for their parents--nevertheless they are members of Christ, called to help Him in His Redeeming Work and so to enter into His joy. And what greater honor could God give to human beings than thus to include them in the work of His Son?

And our home, even though both parents and children are so imperfect and liable to sin, must also be a more wonderful thing in God's eyes than an unfallen and unredeemed home would have been. For our marriage is a reflection and concrete embodiment of the union between Christ and His Church; our home is a miniature and unit of the Mystical Body, in which we all are growing up together by His grace to the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ. And the Mystical Body all over the world and throughout the centuries is a more glorious achievement of God's love than an unfallen and unredeemed society of mankind would have been. For it is Christ's Own Body, His Fullness, His Bride...and, on the Last Day, we shall see that all these things are so...

The front door creaks and slams. My sons rush out of the kitchen. Steps come up the stairs. "It's Daddy!" Jonjo is ready at the head of the staircase and Thomas Edmund is following hard behind. "Daddy's home!" Daddy is home, and everything is all right. After all, I myself have only to be Daddy's helpmeet in bringing up these fascinating and exasperating children. And both of us are only Christ's co-workers, humble assistants of His Holy Spirit. Daddy is home. We are all together now, our little Church. And, by the grace of God, we will all be together in heaven some day, where we already have a little daughter and our two sons a sister, together rejoicing in the fullness of God's life and love, in the unity of all God's family with Him forever. Thanks be to God!


"Under the Shadow of Thy Wings"

GOING into the children's room, I stumble over a tin truck that Thomas Edmund must have thrown out of his crib. It makes a terrific clatter in the night-time hush, but neither child stirs. The street-light outside and the hall-light inside make a peaceful dimness in which I can see Jonjo in the big bed and Thomas Edmund in his crib, both lost in the mystery of sleep.

Jonjo is lying face-down, one arm flung out over his beloved Santa, who is really a clown, but, having been given him at Christmas, got confused with Santa Claus. The innumerable picture-books which "keep the bad dreams away" are scattered all over the bed, intermingled with several pieces of railroad track and an engine. I put them all next to the wall, and pull the blankets over my oldest son.

Now for Thomas Edmund--another sight to make even an anxious mother smile. He is lying on his back with his hands under his head and one pink-pajamaed leg absurdly crossed over the other, like a club-man reclining in an easy-chair. His mattress is bare; the sheet is wadded into a ball and the blankets are on the floor. All round him are the rest of the railroad tracks and a lot of torn-up paper. As I tidy it all up and pull the sheet under him, he turns over, gives a contented little sigh, and burrows down again into deep sleep. Good-night, gentlemen, God bless you.

But as I go back to my own room, the house seems quiet, much too quiet. John is away on an over-night lecture-trip and will not be back till tomorrow. During the day and the long evening I have kept very busy and have managed quite successfully to pretend that I wasn't nervous. Now the pretense is wearing rather thin. But what is there to be nervous about anyway? Jonjo and Thomas Edmund are perfectly well and are sleeping beautifully. There are three able-bodied and kind grown-ups downstairs in the other half of the house to call to in case I need help of any sort. The hot-water heater is really turned out (I have been downstairs twice to make sure) and so is the oven and all four burners on the stove. John certainly gave a good talk and already is on his way home again. If only I could just go to sleep like the children and wake up tomorrow to sunlight and John's coming in the door...The stair creaks in the uncanny way stairs have when you are already feeling jumpy. Something rustles...a sudden gust of wind makes all the windows rattle. A car goes by outside, honking noisily, and Jonjo stirs restlessly and says something about a fire-truck.

Before we had the children, I used to go to sleep without all these horrors even when John was away. Why shouldn't I now? What am I so scared of? Everything is all right...Heavens, I wish it was morning...Oh, don't be silly.

Well, anyway, I can say my prayers, even if I can't possibly go to sleep afterwards. Perhaps John is praying too as his train is rocking along homewards in the darkness. And think of all the people all over the world, monks and nuns and priests and laymen like us, all saying the same prayers, the night-prayer of the Church. All of them are praying for "us," for all their fellow-members of the Mystical Body of Christ, so their prayers are for the children and for John and for me, as ours are for them. I am not really alone at all. John and I are "one flesh," even though he is three hundred miles away and I am here. And we are one Body and one Spirit with all the other members of Christ all over the world. So I have let myself get all wrought up by a mere illusion of aloneness... "Pray, Sir, a blessing." I so enjoy asking my husband, the head of our house, for his blessing when we say Compline together. Perhaps he is sending us one now from his berth in the train...

"May the Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end." That is exactly what I want for the children and for John and me and for everybody on earth--a quiet night tonight and a perfect entrance into eternity whenever it is God's Will. "Amen." So be it.

"Brethren, be sober and watch, for your adversary the devil is going around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour. Do you resist him, strong in the faith. But Thou, O Lord, have mercy on us." How wise is the Church to go straight to the heart of her children's night-time fears, to make us mention them out loud and then do something about them. Of course it is the devil of whom I am really afraid for myself and the children. And I wonder how much good my watching will be against such an enemy, and how strong is my faith to resist him. But God will have mercy on us all in our weakness and He will watch with us. Thanks be to God. Nothing can happen to Jonjo or Thomas or to John or to me or to anybody without the permission of God's love. He is infinitely more powerful than the devil and all his works, and we in our very weakness are powerful also, for our "help is in the Name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."

"Our Father Who art in heaven..." John's fatherhood, the strong support and constant refuge of my timorous motherhood of these children of ours, is only the dim shadow and reflection of Your Fatherhood of us all, Infinite Strength and Infinite Carefulness, always present. "Hallowed be Thy Name," by us and by the whole world, that Name in which is our help. "Thy Kingdom come" in us and in the whole world, in spite of our weakness and sinfulness. "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven," by John and me whether we are physically together or apart, by these children of Yours and ours, by everybody on earth. "Give us this day our daily bread," everything we need for our souls and our bodies (how much of my nervousness now that I have a family comes from a lack of real trust in our Father Who knows that we "have need of all these things," and from wanting security about next year's bread, not simply today's). Dear Father, it seems so hard that now when we need Your Own Bread of the Holy Eucharist so very badly to give us daily light and strength and light to bring up our children, that we can go to receive It so much less often than when we didn't have the children. Please, if it is Your Will, give John a better schedule next year and make me a little stronger so that we can have our daily Bread again and not only on Sundays--or else please do something soon about evening Masses! And make Jonjo and Thomas intelligent and loving enough to begin to receive that Bread at the earliest possible age. I am so afraid of all the temptations and trials of life for them and for us, and desperately afraid that we are not preparing them properly to face and overcome them. They are Your children even more than ours, so "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen."

"I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin..." How wonderful to be able to go so simply every night to God Himself, and to the Queen of Heaven and to the Prince of the heavenly host, and to the Herald of Our Lord and to the Chiefs of the Apostles and to everyone in heaven, and say to all of them that I have sinned today. Jonjo and Thomas Edmund haven't sinned; they can't as yet. But I have; and it is the effect of my sins that I fear for them, the effect of my selfishness, my irritability, my bad example. You read all these books about the terrible harm that parents can do to their small children un- knowingly...What harm might I not have done today by my thoughts and words and deeds, "through my fault, through my most grievous fault?" But "therefore," just because I have sinned, I beseech Our Lady and St. Michael and St. John and St. Peter and St. Paul and all the saints to pray to the Lord Our God for me. And of course, in their love which is one with the love of God, they are going to pray for us, right away now. So, because of their intercession and God's goodness. "May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to life everlasting. May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, abso- lution and remission of our sins. Amen."

Now for the Sunday Psalms...The first one seems to speak for my Christian self, alternately talking to God and arguing with my silly and fearful natural self that all is well since God is watching out for His Own. The Christian self begins confidently: "When I called, the God of my justice heard me. When I was in trouble Thou didst set me at liberty. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer." Then it turns to the shrinking nervous self who is afraid even of "things that go bump in the night" and says rather impatiently: "You sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity and seek after lying?" Why do you go on being so stupid about trusting in God's care, when you have seen so often how wonderfully He cares for you? Why do you go on clinging to that silly Puritan idea that you have to do everything perfectly if you expect God to help you? Why do you go on seeking security in money and health and things coming out the way you want, instead of in God Himself? "Know you also that God has exalted His holy one: the Lord will hear me when I cry to Him." The Lord will hear you, you stupid woman, not because of what you are or do by yourself, but because you are a member of Christ, the Holy One Whom God has exalted. Trust in Him and cry to Him and don't worry about whether you can trust in yourself or not, for you can't, and that isn't the point.

"Be ye angry and sin not: the things that you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds." Oh dear, I get so angry with the children so often every day; but how to do so only when it is necessary and then to "sin not"--that is a parental and Christian art which I haven't even begun to master. But at least when the children are safely in bed and quiet at last, then I am certainly sorry for all the complaints and irritability and whining that I have uttered out loud and in my heart all during the day...

"Offer up the sacrifice of justice and trust in the Lord." That's the thing to do. Offer up all this weariness and care and overwhelming responsibility of having children, offer it with Our Lord's perfect offering in the Mass, so that He will transform it all into His Own Work--and then trust in Him. Many say: "who will show us good things." Almost everybody today says just that, in this age of uncertainty and confusion, and everybody wonders even more who will show their children good things, since the future looks even more doubtful than the present. But "the light of Thy face, O Lord, is signed upon us," upon John and me and our children and all the members of Christ on earth. In Thy light we believe and hope in the infinitely good things You have shown us; You so mark us with that Light of Christ by Baptism and Confirmation that we can even reflect it to others and show them where truly good things are to be found. "Thou hast given gladness in my heart," the gladness of Christ's life underneath and above the fatigue and pain and small frustrations of conscious daily living, more real joy than if the "corn and wine and oil" of money and time and strength were all multiplied. God gives us this gladness now, to John and me in our married life. And He will surely give it also to our children, His children, whether they live in the difficult times that seem to lie ahead of all children today, or whether they live in times when the corn and wine and oil of natural blessings are abundant for everybody. And so "in peace in the Self-Same I will sleep and I will rest. For Thou, O Lord, hast wonderfully established me in hope. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the be- ginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

"He that dwelleth in the help of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of heaven..." Since I found out, such a short time ago, that this Psalm was written first of all about Our Lord, it is beginning to make some real sense. (Why don't those who know tell us these things sooner?) Otherwise it sounds as if God would give you an easy life if you really trust in Him. But of course God didn't protect His Own Son by keeping difficulties and sufferings away from Him. On the contrary "it was fitting that Christ should suffer and so enter into His glory." So trusting in God doesn't mean that one will not have any troubles, but rather that God will make us able so to suffer with Christ Our Lord, that we can be glorified with Him. It isn't sickness or suffering or difficulties that I should fear for myself or for John or for Jonjo and Thomas Edmund. The only thing to be afraid of is lack of trust in God Who wants to bring us through these things, by means of these things, to Himself. And I don't even have to feel as if I trusted God. All I have to do is to "abide in His help," and to do my part in teaching Jonjo and Thomas to abide in it also. If they only learn to "say to the Lord, Thou art my upholder and my refuge, my God, in Him will I trust," then He will deliver them from the "snare of the hunters"--not from the necessary complications of human life, but from the deceits of the devil and all his human agents--"and from the sharp word"--not from unkind things being said about them, but from the harm in all the written and spoken words sharpened to hurt children's innocence and faith and intelligence. God will "overshadow them with His shoulders, and under His wings they will trust. His truth will com- pass them with a shield," the truth of the faith, the truth of the joy of life in Christ. They will "not be afraid for the terror of the night," of any of the nights through which they may have to pass into God's sunrise, nights of trial, nights of suffering, nights of war, or the final night of death. They will not have to fear "the arrow that flieth by day," the unexpected and unguarded-against temptation, or "the plague that walks in the darkness," the plague of discouragement and despair, or "the attack of the noon-day devil," the temptation to glory and pride in their own achievements.

"A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee." All these horrible statistics of crime and evil show conditions that perhaps with God's help my sons may do something to remedy when they grow up, but not conditions that need overwhelm them. John and I can't warn them about all the dangers they will meet, but God's light and grace will enlighten them so that they will "behold and see the reward of the wicked" for themselves.

"For thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the Most High thy refuge." If only John and I, by God's help, keep hoping in Him, then our children will learn to do so with us. Then "there shall no evil come to thee; neither shall the scourge come near thy dwelling. For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways." Just think, there are three guardian angels here in the house right now, and John's angel is on the train with him. (An argument both for more children and for more hospitality--the more people in your house, the more angels!) "In their hands shall they bear thee up; lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone." Jonjo's and Thomas's angels must be doing a lot of this now in a purely physical sense, or our little boys would have a lot more bumps and bruises than they do!

"Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk; the lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under foot." With their angels' protection, safe in God's help, Jonjo and Thomas Edmund will walk over all the unpleasant snakes of evil that lie in the path of boys and men; even the lions and dragons of their own growing powers will be kept under the control of the life of Christ in them. "Because he hath hoped in Me, I will deliver him: I will protect him because he has known my name." Our children have the powers of Hope and Faith already implanted in their baptized souls. So God can say to their anxious parents: "he shall cry unto me and I will hear him. I am with him in trouble. I will deliver him and I will glorify him. I will fill him with length of days and will show him my salvation." Even though I fear so much for them from my stupidity and weakness, how can I help hoping for all God's blessings for them, since He has already given them so much? "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."

I am certainly beginning to feel relaxed and sleepy now...It would be wonderful to be able to stay awake, not to worry, but to thank God. But even though I have to, and should, go to sleep, there is the whole court of heaven and millions of members of the Mystical Body on earth to carry on God's work of praise. "Now bless ye the Lord, all servants of the Lord. You that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God." All you angels and saints in heaven, all you holy people we knew when you were on earth, dear Grandma and John's father and mine...bless the Lord for us and for our sleeping children. And all the monks and nuns on earth who "lift up your hands by night to the holy places," bless the Lord for us. May the Lord bless us all "out of Sion," out of the glory of the heavenly city, He "who made heaven and earth."

Now the Hymn. How amazing to be able to ask God to be our "guardian and defense"--as it were, our night-nurse and night-watchman! In her prayer, the Church lets us all be children, just like Jonjo at bed-time, asking Father not to go away. "For Thou, O Lord, art amongst us, and Thy holy name is called upon us. Forsake us not, O Lord our God." And, unlike earthly fathers and mothers who have to go away sometimes from their children, He doesn't...Thanks be to God!

"Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit," all our spirits, again and again. For You have not only made us, You "have redeemed us, O Lord, the God of truth. So keep us, O Lord, as the apple of Thine eye. Protect us under the shadow of Thy wings"--Jonjo and Thomas and I, and everyone in the whole world all huddled together, safe in Thy love, like chickens under their mother's wings.

Now, "send Thy servant" to sleep, dear Lord, "in peace. Because mine eyes have seen Thy salvation," Thy goodness to us all in Thy Son. "Save us, O Lord, while we are awake, and guard us when we are asleep, that we may watch with Christ and rest in peace." And visit, dear Lord, our house here, driving far from it all snares of the enemy. May Your holy angels dwell here, to keep us in peace, and Your blessing be always upon us. For we dare to ask for all this through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who lives and rules with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. So may the Almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, bless and keep us always. Amen.

And a final good-night to Our Lady. (Again, how the Church encourages her children to be children, wanting to say good-night to their mother last of all.) "Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy." Queen of heaven, but mother of Mercy Himself and our most merciful mother. You who because you are Christ's Mother, and He made you ours, are our life and the sweetness of our life, and our hope. We cry to you, we who were born as children of Eve, who are now also your children and God's, but still not safe in our home with you in heaven. We run to you with all our tears and sighs and groans, just as Jonjo and Thomas come and cry in my lap when they get hurt. So now, dear Advocate, Come and look at us now as we are going to sleep; and when our exile on earth is over, then show us your Own Most Blessed Child in all His beauty. O kind, O loving, O dear Virgin Mary. Pray for us all that we may be worthy of Christ's promises on earth and in heaven. And may God grant through your motherly prayers that we may be freed from every present ill and evil and come safely to the glory of heaven, through Christ Our Lord.