The altar at St. Clements, image by Cliff Marck.

My eldest is seven. Last night, we were together at the parish hall. The folks at the parish were holding their first class for kids preparing for First Reconciliation. I was sitting at the back with an article that I have been trying to find the time to read.

As an unsupervised herd, seven-year olds can be loud, wild and unpleasant. But the scene last night really melted my heart: in small groups of about five, the children were listening intently to their catechist talk to them about God. I mean, God is objectively super cool, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that the kids were engaged and interested.

When they were done their initial activity, the group filed upstairs to the church and sat around the foot of the altar. The catechists taught each little group about the Holy Water fonts (child: How much can we take? catechist: Lots!), making the Sign of the Cross, genuflecting towards the Tabernacle (where Jesus really is), and not running up the aisles like a crazy fool.

As their lesson began, I settled down and tried to read the article I started about a year ago called The Truth and Meaning of Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family, which tries to provide parents some guidance as they share the truths offered by our faith concerning love and sexuality.

I tried to concentrate on the words on the page but was distracted by the kids raising their hand to try and answer questions. They were pretty excited. I had probably read the same sentence a million times.

As the image of God, man is created for love.

I was enjoying watching the kids. They were learning about Baptism. I tried to keep reading.

Each person is freed from the tendency to selfishness by the love of others, in the first place by parents or those who take their place and definitively, by God…

At the end of the evening, homework was assigned and I watched a herd of children get picked up by a herd of parents, grandparents or friends. Small gestures of love filled the room: hugs, smiles, pats, kids being helped into coats. How did it go? What did you do? Your own bottle of Holy Water? Cool!

Did they know, these big people, parents, relatives, friends, catechists, that these kids soak up their small gestures? Soak them up and, in turn, learn how to love? Learn how to give of themselves to others, slowly, slowly by soaking up the generosity and love they receive? Did they know that the kids were soaking up their gentleness, their enthusiasm, their sacrifice of their time? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But God does. As the image of God, man is created for love. God loves us and God knows what we need. And He’s on top of it.