The curly-haired woman with the bright orange shirt looks up, gently plays a chord on her guitar, and for the third time this morning, kills a little piece of my soul.
Ooooohhhhhhhh Suuuuusssssaaannnnaaaa!!! Doooonnncha cryyy foooorrrr mmmmeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!
Children’s singers are absolutely merciless. And I dislike, nay, I detest, this video.
My little boy, Arthur, is entranced. He loves this video with a single-minded devotion. I do everything I can to disrupt our routine: I try to entice him with Sesame Street, Veggie Tales, Barney… anything rather than go through our requisite 3-5 daily viewings of Laurie Berkner’s children’s music. But every time, Arthur brings me the remote and points at the TV until I switch it back.
So with a sigh and a smile, I hit “play” one more time. And one more time, my one-year-old son giggles with delight as Ms. Berkner masterfully narrates one man’s epic struggle to come from Alabama with a banjo on his knee.
G.K. Chesterton once said that “because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Perhaps I ought to be ashamed of being such a grown-up.
Of the seven Sacraments, the Catholic Church recognizes only two when they are done by non-Catholic ministers: Baptism and Marriage. Any Baptism done in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is recognized. And any Marriage between two baptized persons is sacramental. It’s as if those two are so crucial to humanity, so absolutely essential to our life as a species, that God goes outside of the Church looking for us, His lost sheep, bringing with Him only His two trusty Sacraments of new Life.
Pope Benedict recently had this to say about Baptism: “The choice of the expression ‘in the name of the Father’ in the Greek text is very important: the Lord says ‘eis’ and not ‘en,’ and so not ‘in the name’ of the Trinity like we say that a vice-prefect speaks ‘in the name’ of the prefect, an ambassador speaks ‘in the name’ of the government. No. He says ‘eis to onoma,’ meaning an immersion into the name of the Trinity, a being inserted into the name of the Trinity, an interpenetration of the being of God and our being, a being immersed in God the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, just as in marriage, for example, two persons become one flesh, become one single new reality, with a single new name.”
I’ve been to several Catholic baptisms, and they’re always grand affairs. The child, whether boy or girl, is dressed in a beautiful white christening gown. Family and friends and godparents all gather around. Satan is denounced and cast out, solemn vows to raise the child in the faith are made, and, if we’re lucky, cake is served.
And after the bouncing baby is brought into the very name of the Triune God, he is invited to live life in an utterly predictable way. Sometime around the second grade, he will receive his first Holy Communion, just like all the other boys and girls. Sometime around sophomore year of high school, he will be Confirmed, just like all the other boys and girls. And if he persists as a faithful Catholic, he will go to Mass each Sunday, making the sign of the Cross the same way, kneeling at all the same times, hearing the same liturgy time after time, partaking of the Eucharist over and over again.
And it will be beautiful, over and over again. This life into the name of the Trinity, this marriage to God, is wonderfully, gloriously routine.
Weddings are pretty similar to Baptisms. The Bride wears a beautiful white wedding gown. She and the Groom are surrounded by family and friends and that old roommate that nobody liked but had to be invited. Life as a single person is renounced, solemn vows of faithfulness to each other are made, and, if we’re lucky, cake is served.
And then you wake up the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that. And…
What’s the number-one reason given for why boyfriends don’t propose to girlfriends? Fear of commitment, of course. And what are they afraid of committing to? Monotony. Repetition. The doldrums of routine. They’re afraid of what it will be like to wake up to the exact same person, day after day after day.
They’re afraid that, after the millionth time in a row, “Oh Susanna!” won’t be their favorite song anymore.
But at every Eucharist the priest intones “This is my Body, which will be given up for you,” and every morning, I look at my beautiful wife, and tell her again that I love her. And each and every time is wonderful, an act of self-giving that never gets old. Maybe if we were just a little less grown-up, if we became like the little children that Jesus told us to imitate, we would grasp the majesty of the monotonous. We often say of the boyfriend who won’t settle down that he “needs to grow up.” Perhaps he’s too grown-up for the glory that’s on offer to him.
The Sacrament of Marriage is an invitation to the sublimity of the routine. Because Life and Love, Bride and Bridegroom, Eucharist and Marriage, are beautiful, over and over and over again…
[author] Ryan M. is a husband, the proud dad of a one-year-old boy (and another one on the way!), a math teacher, and a recent law school graduate. After years of searching, praying, and reading, he and his family were received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil this past April. Ryan enjoys writing about the beauty and grace he’s found in the Catholic faith on his blog, Back of the World. [/author]