It can be hard to get someone’s attention. In our house people tend to disregard whatever isn’t directed to them by name. You can’t say “Take the dishes off the table,” and expect to get anything. You have to say, “Juliana, take the dishes.” I don’t think it’s willful negligence. It’s just the high volume of activity around here.
Anyone who’s grown up in a large family (or is blessed to be raising one), knows what a challenge it is to call a particular child. Several years ago, our kids invented a set of new nicknames based on our inability to call the right child on the first try. They took the first syllable of every name, and left out the one for the child that was being called. Hence, Kolbe became Ya-Na-Kat-Ky-Aus-Mar-Jul, and Katerina was Ya-Na-Ko-Ky-Aus-Mar-Jul. I could never figure out how they managed to say those names so quickly.
My approach has been, admittedly, a bit more Pavlovian. I use interior and exterior house bells. The bell is rung when dinner is ready. The bell is also rung to assemble people for general information or announcements. It is a universal call that everyone answers -- even the dog.
We’re trained to listen for our own names. As most teachers will attest, almost every daydreamer can be startled back into the classroom by simply calling his name. But it doesn’t always work. I remember something that happened to me at my first obstetrical appointment. I had been married for a little less than a year, and when the nurse called “Mrs. Wolfe,” I didn’t even blink. To me, “Mrs. Wolfe” was my mother-in-law.
It’s hard enough to hear and recognize it when we ourselves are being called. But if we’re going to fulfill the mission of evangelization, we have to find a way to do even more. Responding to my own call is where it begins. But evangelization is encouraging others to hear and respond to God’s call in their lives. In essence, that demands that we at least try to listen for the voice of God when he is calling someone else.
When I call one child’s name down the stairs, I often hear the others repeat that call. They tell one another that Mom is calling so-and-so. And while it is not for them to respond in their brother or sister’s place, passing on the message is part of what it means to take care of each other, to function as a family.
It is in that spirit that the World Apostolate of Fatima sponsors a Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour on the first Friday of October. For the past few years, children from all over the archdiocese have had an opportunity to be a part of this worldwide spiritual gathering. Hundreds of school aged children have come to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to honor Our Lady, hear the message of Fatima, pray the rosary, and experience the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist exposed. I have been blessed to lead the children in song at this event. There are few things I do that touch me as deeply. I think that is because the will of God, the call of God to children is so clear: bring them to him, usher them into his presence. The Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour simply makes that happen.
Ultimately, “Come to Me” is the call we need to pass on, the one we need to facilitate in every way we can. We cannot answer for one another. But we can relay the message, again and again, until every soul hears God calling him or her by name; until every soul responds. There is no better thing we can do for our families and friends than to bring them into His Presence.
For more information about how your family or school can participate in the Children’s Holy Hour, consult www.eucharisticholyhour.org.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.