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A childs right to pray

He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. Mark9:36-37

My granddaughter Elizabeth said prayers with us before dinner last Sunday. She held her hands pressed together and lowered her head as she gave thanks to God in the traditional prayer of “grace” before meals, and beamed with pride and a smile because she was able to recite it on her own.

After dinner, as we all sat down in the living room, Elizabeth shared a day-care experience with me. “Grandma”, she said, “I said my prayers in school and Miss Kim told me I better not do it again.” I felt my heart drop. My wonderful daughter Anne, Elizabeth’s mother, said, “Can you believe that?!” Anne encouraged Elizabeth by telling her how happy she made Jesus feel when she said her prayers. I agreed and half-heartedly advised Elizabeth to continue to say her prayers silently at school. Elizabeth in her child-like wisdom replied, “I will. I will say them in my heart.”

Each time I think of this, I have to pause and let that sink in. Like the last delectable bite of mouth watering chocolate cake, I savor the sweetness and purity of Elizabeth’s profession of faith; “I will say them in my heart”.

Her older brother scoffed at her and thought the idea of saying something with or in your heart was a physical impossibility and therefore ridiculous. But Elizabeth had it so right! God requires our hearts, not our minds or empty words. “Rend your hearts, not your garments” Joel 2:13, comes to mind.

What a blessing Elizabeth is to me and to the world! My daughter has done such a good job teaching her children about God. I am aware of her struggles to provide in every way that she can for her children, especially as a single parent. She brings them to mass every Sunday and spends as much quality time as she can with them. I think she would put them in private/Catholic school if she could afford it on her own. It is a terrible injustice that a four year old child cannot say her/his prayers before meals everywhere they actually eat, or for that matter, anywhere they want to. This one accomplishment must be hidden because a teacher or school system, like Miss Kim, will make a child feel they have done or said something that is “wrong”.

Please join with me in praying for Miss Kim and all the teachers our children spend a good part of their days with. Please pray for our nation and politicians, that God may rule over their hearts and minds. Here is the answer to our problems: When the apostles could not heal a particular person and questioned Jesus about it,

” And he said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:29 Let us pray with and from our hearts verbally and/or silently that God be present in each and every one of us, especially during these uncertain times.

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke: 15-17


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