Letters from Seminary

We all must believe like little children

Published: July 23, 2011

By Mauricio Carrasco
Diocesan Seminarian

“Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”

A few weeks ago, I was privileged enough to be hosted by two little princesses for a three-course meal. Isabel, wearing a yellow gown and gloves, asked me, “What would you like to drink, water or tea?” I said, “Water would be just fine, thank you.”

She handed me a little Cinderella teacup and assured me that my eggs were coming right up. Lili, wearing a blue gown, asked what I wanted on my hamburger. At which point the other princess interrupted and asked what I wanted on my tacos.

The entire meal soon came out of their little oven in a series of pots and pans, and they warned me that it was still hot. Believe me, I have never had breakfast, lunch and dinner all at the same meal, much less with this concoction of American and Mexican foods. But for my two little nieces, who are 4 and 3 years old, this seemed to be perfectly fine.

I am sure many of you have attended many meals like this. If not, then surely you once held them yourself or you played pretend in some other way. I can still remember as a little boy the many farms and cattle I used to own.

I remember the many scuba diving trips I took from my own backyard. And there was always something amazing about playing pretend; it gave us the freedom to be who we dreamed of being as grownups. It allowed us to live, in a way, the future.

Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, talks about this particular aspect of children’s play in his book “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” He writes that children’s play is often a rehearsal for later life. He then uses children’s play to explain an aspect of the liturgy.

He says that the Mass is like children’s play in that it is an anticipation and a rehearsal for what life will be like in the future; that is, in heaven. During the Mass we get a little taste of what it means for our life to be centered on God, and for us to love and care for our neighbor.

Priesthood, I believe, is also very much like children’s play. The priest is meant to be a living symbol, an anticipation if you will, of the way we will all love in heaven. As a transitional deacon, I promised to live a life of obedience, prayer and celibacy.

These promises anticipate the way we will all love in heaven, where obedience, adoration and love will all be one, equally shared with all and not just with one person. That is why you often hear that we make these promises “for the sake of the kingdom.”

And it is extremely important that I first believe in the kingdom of God if I am to live the joy of these promises. You see, before a little girl plays princess, she must first believe that she is loved and is therefore worthy to be someone’s princess some day; before she plays hostess, she must first believe that there is great joy in sharing a family meal.

Before a boy dreams up a cattle ranch, he must first believe in the virtue of being a hard worker and a caretaker; before he goes scuba diving in his backyard, he must first believe in the infinite possibilities that the ocean has to offer him.

Perhaps it is hard for us to follow a vocation to the priesthood, religious life or even our universal vocation to holiness because we never believed in the kingdom in the first place. We have to reclaim our childhood and allow heaven to seize our imaginations.

Remember, the Lord said the kingdom belongs to the little children (Matthew 19:14), and all the things of heaven the Lord has hidden from the wise and the learned and revealed to the childlike.

This series was written when seminarian Mauricio Carrasco was studying for the priesthood and chronicles the joys and struggles of his formation along the way. Today, Father Mauricio Carrasco is a priest serving the people of the Diocese of Little Rock. The series was originally published in Arkansas Catholic. Copyright Diocese of Little Rock. All rights reserved. It may be copied or redistributed with acknowledgement and permission of the publisher.