It’s a perennial topic on Catholic websites and this week Danielle Bean addressed it again here. So in a different way did Dom here and here. Both conversations are worth reading. But today I found this blog entry at Historical Christian that doesn’t directly address the issue and yet is one of the best pieces I’ve read on the subject. Blogger Aimee is reposting a conversion story sent to her by a reader. His story begins when he was five and a friend of his mother’s took him to mass. It was, he said, the first time he’d ever heard the name Jesus.
About this time the lady told me that “Jesus is very near” and so I was watching the alter very closely. She then put her arm around me and pointed to the alter and whispered “Jesus is here do you see Him”… Looking at the alter at first I saw no one except the priest but then a sudden awareness took hold and I knew that the Host held high in the priests hands was Jesus and with that realization I also became aware of His great love for me.
And then, with that realization, there came a wave much like a heat wave or a water wave but transparent up from the alter and over near the ceiling and I knew it was going to come crashing down on me. I was afraid so I ducked back into the pew to try and avoid it. But as I fled I felt a wave of love, that I now know was the Holy Spirit, pass over and thru me and I felt this Love completely envelope me.
In the presence of this Love there was Jesus. I was able to feel His love within my soul and to see my soul as it was, pure except for one black spot or perhaps a better description as a hole and it was not pure and I wanted desperately to conceal this from Jesus but I was unable to. I knew nothing of the soul or its existence and I certainly didn’t know anything about original sin and I hadn’t been baptized so I had no idea why there was this black mark but I sure wished that it wasn’t there.
There’s much more to the tale, read his whole story here.
Here was an uncatechized child, completely unprepared for mass. And yet with a few simple words, this kind woman led him to a most amazing encounter with our Lord. Children are so ready to believe, so open to knowing and loving God. It is far, far easier for a young child to experience Jesus in a piece of bread than it is for us to begin to explain it to him. Yet so often we underestimate what children are capable of.