Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Inspiring Faith of a Child

A couple of weeks ago, on a bitter cold January morning, when everything in New York City and the surrounding areas were covered with a thin sheet of ice, I was scheduled to give a talk to parents in Glendale, Queens.  Not knowing how many students and parents would actually attend, I traveled to Queens to St. Pancras Catholic School. I waited for the children and parents to arrive as they were at Mass, and I had attended Mass the evening before. I waited in the auditorium and in walked a little girl with her grandmother. I spoke to them as we waited for the others to arrive. Her story inspired me, so that I received much more that day than I gave. It seems this 7-year-old child had insisted that she walk with her grandmother the 12 blocks to the school, so that they could attend the program that morning, in preparation for her First Communion. Each block they walked was covered with ice, as it was still morning. Her uncle who would usually drive them, wasn't able to come that day. She beamed when I  told her and when I later told the others that I was very impressed at the effort she had made. Her grandmother told me she insisted on coming. I learned through the conversation that this beautiful little girl had lost her mother a couple of years earlier and she was being raised by her grandmother and aunt. And yet even though she suffered a tremendous loss at a young age, she still had this deep faith, a faith so strong that she wouldn't be deterred, she walked in the cold that morning, on slippery sidewalks, to a meeting. She had "caught" Christianity at St. Pancras School in Queens. The faith of that Catholic school child inspired me that day and still does, every time I think of her faith and trust. And as for the meeting, I was amazed, it seemed everyone showed up, the weather wasn't an issue after all. 
Interestingly, St. Pancras was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity and was beheaded for his faith around the year 304. He was very young at the time, a teenager, about 14 years
old. His name is Greek and means, "the one that holds everything."