|D.J. Miller ’02
As parents of three children, all under five years old, my wife and I have quite the time of it when we try to get our family to Mass on Sunday mornings. Diaper changes, missing shoes and sandwich bags of cheerios are always in the mix, interspersed with the occasional tantrum.
My wife and I have admitted to each other that we sometimes long for the days when we went to Mass without distraction. We fondly remember the calm and stillness of sitting in a pew and really focusing on prayer, community, and Scripture rather than playing defense against a two-year-old who wants to run down the aisle. But we also know that bringing our children to Mass is the best chance we have in creating a life-long foundation of faith for them.
So every Sunday we have our own crazy, imperfect version of the presentation in the temple. Instead of sacrificing two turtle doves, we sacrifice a little bit of sleep and a small slice of sanity (which we know God’s grace will restore to us). Our children are the greatest gifts that God has given us and we know that we show our gratitude for these gifts in a real way when we bring them to God each week for Mass at our parish.
The most striking aspect of the analogy I am trying to draw here is the role of Simeon. In his old age, he is filled with great joy when Jesus is presented in the temple. He had been waiting for the Messiah for a long time and he recognizes Jesus as the fulfillment of his hope and longing. While our children are not perfect angels, it so often happens that older members of the parish delight to see them at Mass and stop to encourage us as parents or thank us for bringing them. They sometimes say, “Oh, they were so good during Mass!” even when this is obviously false. This encouragement means so much to us because it makes us feel like we have the support and wisdom of the elders in our community. I think our presence there means so much to them because, in their old age, they–like Simeon–can see the future of their faith.