Children Great and Small

Institution of the Eucharist by Justus van Gent

Father Cassilly writes: “Both St. John and St. Paul, after the example of our Lord Himself, call the Christians ‘little children.’ There is quite a difference between little and older children. . . . The child, according to the golden-tongued Doctor, retains no memory of injuries, and, though punished by its mother, still clings to her. And if you show it a queen crowned with jewels and gorgeously attired, it will not leave its mother in her frayed and patched gown. It chooses things not for their richness or elegance but from affection, and desires only what is needful.”

“And we must become like little children, so Christ tells us, if we would enter into the kingdom of heaven. We must become lowly and humble in our own eyes, simple, innocent and straightforward, setting aside the wisdom of the world and the prudence of the flesh. No matter how old we are in years, we must retain the candor and simplicity of childhood in our conduct toward others, and discard worldly standards of judgment which are largely based on what is artificial and adventitious. The world pays court to the rich and prosperous and influential, disregarding the poor, the unfortunate and helpless.” But the true Christian “will see Christ in all.”

“One of the pleasures of children is the companionship of those of their own age. . . . The Christian is not doomed to be an only child, he has a vast multitude of brothers and sisters, all who are connected with him by faith. . . . We all have the same spiritual regeneration in grace, the common means of salvation, namely, the sacraments and the word of God, and finally the same destiny. We all gather at the Eucharistic table, and, partaking of one Bread, become ourselves ‘one bread, one body’ (1 Cor 10:17). Thus closely united we are ever sure of sympathy from others in sorrow and trial and of help in our undertakings. Our interests lie in common, the welfare of each being involved in that of all.”

“To show the close union that subsists between Christians, St. Paul calls them the members of Christ’s mystical body, the Church, of which Christ is the Head (1 Cor 12:12-31). And as in the human body the eye sees not for itself alone but for the whole body, as ear and hand and foot mutually minister to one another, and suffer and rejoice with a suffering or rejoicing member, so we Christians must minister to and assist, rejoice and suffer with, our fellow Christians.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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