punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Piety of Little Ones

Teaching children about the Faith can be filled with beautiful moments.

Having said this, it can also be funny.  Holiness, or reverence thereof, distilled through the toddler and child genius is entirely comedic in the purest sense: kids have no idea they're being funny because they're genuinely trying to be holy...with laugh out loud results (and I'm convinced it's just the kind of laugh you need as a parent to remember to be lighthearted in your own Faith).

What I'm calling the 'hilarious piety' of little ones can take many unexpected forms.  Here are a few examples from my home.

“T’ank you Bwessed Muddah, fo’ the pawking spot.”
Alright, guilty as charged: I pray for empty spots when I’m parking.  I suppose, to my own credit, that I must also consistently express my gratitude to “Bwessed Muddah” when they come.

My daughter has picked up on this and now routinely thanks Our Lady whenever we come upon an available space.   “T’ank you bwessed Muddah, fo’ the pawking spot,” her little voice spouts from the back seat.  It's cute, especially since she still can't say her "r's" correctly.

What can I say? The toddler realizes that prayer pays off (ahem, especially when it gets her closer to the mall ice cream) and that's a stronger conviction than many people have.  Of course we'll introduce her to the eternal, non-temporal fruits of prayer soon enough, but I'm not giving up praying for those parking spots anytime soon either.

Whacking the top of head, or, the sign of the cross
Who knew that teaching your kids how to do the sign of the cross could be such an “adventure?”  The three year old, because she mirrors us, makes her sign of the cross like the Orthodox (head, heart, right shoulder, then left shoulder).  When the 20 month old starts his prayers he just whacks the top of his head instead.  To our loving-parent-zombie eyes it’s funny every time.  But it gets really exasperating hilarious when you insert the holy water at church into the equation. 

We can't really get past the threshold of the vestibule before the little guy is already diving off of whoever is holding him to stick his whole hand in the holy water.  And then he smacks the top of his head. He’s probably just doing what he thinks is always done around water.  He’s been taking notes during bath time, at the beach and around the pool.  'Water' equals throw yourself into it and get as much of it on you as possible.  So every time we go to mass he emerges looking newly baptized.  On one hand he's a toddling metaphor for Christian re-birth; on the other, a baby who's always in need of a shirt change depending on how much he's literally 'splashed out' in his use of the sacramental.
Their favorite phrases…set to the tunes of church hymns
This is a new level of piety that I’d never encountered before I had kids.  I know I certainly was never this creative. Basically, the girl cutely imposes her own lyrics upon parts of the mass.  Favorite words, phrases or names become set to the tune of hymns.

For example, heard at Church:
            “Chwist has dieed, Chwist is wisen, Chwist weww come again!”

Okay, now try it with,
 “ I want caaaaake, I want caaaaaake; Ma-ma, I want caaaaaake,”
Heard at home, thank goodness.

Or how about this version of the Alleluia:
You know the one, right?

Now with their cousin's nickname, which is Naynay (short for Naomi), set to it, same intonations and everything:

I guess I should just be grateful that she remembers how to sing the parts of the mass (and I am)!

Don’t get me wrong, we really are trying to raise our kids to be reverent Catholics!    We didn’t aim to achieve any sort of comedic piety, but instead, it just kind of happened and continues to happen on its own.  What about you?  Do you have any examples of the religious fervor of your little that emerge in comedic ways?


  1. Last year my oldest (2.5 at the time) started singing along at church and trying to learn some of the words. Then we hit Lent and stopped singing the Gloria, his favorite song. So he started singing it at home except he preferred his own lyrics as well. I don't know how many times we wished "Peace to all people on a horse" before Easter when he started singing his version at Mass too.

  2. Anonymous- thanks for stopping by! How funny...and how reassuring to know that it's more than just my kid who does that!

  3. How about this:

    "Our Father, who art in heaven, Howard is thy name"

    We heard that for a few years before the real prayer caught o

  4. Isn't the Orthodox was the RIGHT way of doing the Sign of the Cross? Eastern Catholics do it that way too. Because it represents
    Head: God the Father who is Head
    Heart/womb area: Son who is God made human in the womb of the Blessed Theotokos
    Right shoulder FIRST: directly after Son/womb... who is seated at the Right hand of God the Father.
    that is why we do it Right shoulder first... because doing the Left one first, it loses its meaning!
    I don't mean this as "we are better", I am an arab catholic a.k.a veeeeeeeery close to the Orthodox, and my best friend is Orthodox, so he explained it to me... and I find it makes much more sense! What do you think about it?

  5. @Saraphina, thank you for reading! Glad you asked. I did do a little bit of research before I wrote this post. I don't think there's a 'wrong' way of doing the sign of the cross but the Latin Rite, from what I understand, currently goes: head, heart, left then right.
    Here's a great online resource from NewAdvent which also delves into the history :http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm
    and also this one, which comes from another blog: http://asksistermarymartha.blogspot.com/2010/05/little-left-handed-devils.html. Enjoy!