In From the Vine

By Dr. Carol Younger

Untitled by Bernhard GOR via Pixabay. CCO

Early childhood memories are always scant. Even if stored away securely, they are sort of foggy, with edges of pictures you remember frayed, not much light cast on the scene. The center scene is clear, light, real. When I was 5 or maybe 6, I remember my mother in center scene bringing a HUGE box of homemade, frilly, decorated cupcakes to my first grade public school classroom. In my mind’s eye, I sat off to the side, in a little tiny desk. My mother was focused on an unseen blurry teacher in the frayed scene edge. Mother said emphatically there were plenty cupcakes for everybody, including the adults.  I remember how pretty Mom was, and that the treat was for the whole class and me. That’s all I remember from the scene. I told Mom about the memory years later. She remembered, she said, that the school wasn’t safe, that she removed me from it and put me in Catholic school, though Dad was not Catholic at that point and did not favor the move. I moved to Catholic school in 2nd grade—First Communion year. 

I remember a lot about 2nd grade in Holy Spirit Catholic Parish School. I was pretty special there and not in a little tiny desk.  The children and teacher welcomed me, and my Mom was frequently there, talking with the nun, even laughing.  I often even sat at Sister Marina’s desk, a teacher’s desk!  I was the only second grader able to read, and I was chosen to read a lot in the class, stories to all the children in the class.  Wow, was I special, and my mom did not have to bring cupcakes to get into the classroom either!

So, this Sunday’s readings, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, really resonate with me!

Moses says: “He has chosen you!” Psalm 103 speaks of the everlasting kindness of the Lord. John writes: “…we remain in him…he has given us of his Spirit”, the Holy Spirit!  And in the Gospel, Jesus makes clear that though the wise and the learned have things hidden from them by the Father, He reveals them to “little ones,” like me in 2nd Grade—First Communion year. Jesus goes on to state that “no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” 

Jesus really revealed the Father to our family that year.  By the end of 2nd Grade, my father had been baptized, my mother and father had their marriage convalidated in the church, and Stan and myself were baptized as well. AND, I was invited to the Holy Communion rail in Holy Spirit Parish Church.  The rest, as they say, is history.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

We were chosen, all of us in our family. And, so too are you chosen. Was it in Second Grade? Maybe yes. Maybe no. But if you are reading this, you are chosen. Jesus has shown you His Most Sacred Heart, and He beckons you. Take His Sweet Yoke on your shoulders. To paraphrase Moses in the reading from Deuteronomy: It was not because you are the largest …[or the most important]…that the Lord set His Heart on you, and chose you….It was because the Lord loved you and because of his faithfulness to [His New Covenant in the Eucharist]….

So, today, receive the kind, Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Eucharist as if He were your First Communion (or even your Last Communion).

About the Author:

Dr. Carol Younger  is a Senior Fellow for the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, Advisory Board Member for the Great Adventure Bible Studies, author of Listening and Study Guides for biblical and theological presentations through St. Joseph Communications, author of the Retreat Companion for 33 Days to Morning Glory through Marian Press.  An accomplished leader in public and private education and a popular adjunct professor at an evangelical Christian university in Southern California. Active in many parish ministries, including RCIA and Catechetical training.

Showing 12 comments
  • Gwen
    Reply

    I love your story! Thank you!!

    • Carol
      Reply

      You are so welcome! This memory is one that reminds me: but for the grace of Jesus I would not have the Catholic Faith, nor the Eucharist! So grateful, and thankful to share.

  • Karen Sheehy
    Reply

    Beautiful explanation of childlike joy for the Lord. Thank you Carol.

    • Carol
      Reply

      Thank you, Karen. Gradually, I am realizing that every moment of faith, hope, love, joy, peace comes from Him. Writing of them increases the awareness such as St. Therese spoke of : “Everything is Grace.”

  • Laurie Larson
    Reply

    I hope you are not insinuating that public schools are not safe or welcoming. Maybe you were in a little tiny desk because there were not funds for bigger desks. My Catholic school experience was not a positive one; the nuns were scary and I was anxious all the time. I know that is not the point of your story, but to me, that is an underlying message.

    • Carol
      Reply

      I had no underlying message in this written offering. What I remember most clearly, Laurie, is my beautiful mother making sacrifices she thought were good and helpful for her little children. God used the experiences to bring our whole family to the Catholic Faith. My brother did not have a wonderful experience in Catholic school; however, in my mind’s eye, this story is about how I was brought to the Faith. Without my father’s conversion, I would never have belonged to the Faith. That is a huge gift to me, personally. I can only speak about my experience. Not about public school, nor about my brother’s experience. God had plans for me: I spent 45 years in public school teaching, counseling and administration. Every one of the schools in which I served was a wonderful school, and my children experienced them as wonderful as well… I grieve for those children and teens whose school experience and family experience is hurtful or limited.

  • Heidi Harvey
    Reply

    Beautiful Carol! What an amazing, merciful gift to know and love the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May we treasure Him more and more each day. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding us that we too are chosen! Bless you, my friend!

    • Carol
      Reply

      Thank you. I treasure the Divine Mercy of Jesus, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist!

  • Joanne
    Reply

    Beautiful sharing of some very special memories. Thank you!

    • Carol
      Reply

      Thank you, Joanne.

  • Jodi Awbrey
    Reply

    This was so beautiful! I love your closing comment on receiving the Eucharist as if He were your first (or last). Thank you for giving me that nugget for reflection every time I receive the Eucharist from now on!

  • Carol
    Reply

    Thank you, Jodi. I thank God we can receive Him in the Eucharist over and over and over until we meet Him face to face! Awesome!

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