March 15, 2013

Reflection / Tom Yost

Bubby and the cross

On the First Sunday of Lent, my wife, Sue, and I took our grandson to Mass with us. His name is Maximus Lombardy Rowe. We call him “Bubby”—at least for now. He is 11 months old.

Like most boys his age, he is wiggly, curious and focused on his immediate surroundings. I found myself keeping a good hold on him through much of the Mass. While it was a little tiring, it was worth every moment.

I’ve heard that even very young children can have a keen sense for sign, symbol, movement and ritual. I experienced this in a particular way with Bubby on the First Sunday of Lent.

As Mass began with the procession of servers, deacon and priest, the processional cross lifted high coming down the center aisle really grabbed Bubby’s attention. He stretched his head and neck as much as he could to follow the cross down the aisle up the sanctuary past the altar until it disappeared into the sacristy.

At the conclusion of Mass, he once again caught sight of the cross lifted high, this time coming out of the sacristy and following it down the center aisle until it disappeared in the narthex of church.

Now, Bubby really has no idea of the meaning of the cross, but his focus on the cross has stimulated my own focus or experience of taking up the cross and following Jesus. How do I follow Jesus who took up his cross and even died on it? Jesus even tells us that if we want to be his disciple, we must take up our cross and follow him. I struggle with what that means.

For me, I think taking up the cross means dying to myself and living for Christ. This “dying” usually consists of sacrifice for others and loving obedience to God. I’m not great at either, but I do believe they are genuine disciplines that lead us to holiness and eternal life with Christ.

I believe that the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving reveal to us the fruits of sacrifice and obedience. Sacrifice and obedience in light of Christ and the cross are positive and life-giving rather than negative and burdensome as our culture would have us believe.

I hope to be more mindful of this not only during Lent, but for every day of my life.

Next time that Sue and I take Bubby to Mass, he may not show any interest in the cross. He might also surprise me.

But for one Mass, one little infant boy revealed something more, something deeper to his grandpa about the attraction of the cross that Jesus tells us to take up and follow him each and every day.

(Tom Yost is pastoral associate of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in New Albany.)

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