“You’re so brave,” the woman said to me, offering a smile.
I demurred. It wasn’t much: I’d only been the person who leaped to a stand and wrestled the cougar that wandered into the church.
No, wait. What I mean is, I led the cadre of hostages that subdued the terrorists who had held us captive for three days.
Okay, fine. What I actually did was bring four children to church without my Patient Husband.
The lack of “Patient Husband” was unavoidable; we would prefer to attend church as a family. Regardless, I rustled up the Kiddos and brought them to church, praying for help and deciding beforehand that if I had to haul all four of them out of the church and go home, I would count it as having attended the entire thing.
God looks out for fools, drunks, the United States of America…and me. The kids were fine throughout, although I did have to threaten Kiddo#3.
We’ve attended this church since arriving in Angelborough, and no one had spoken to us so far. We go to Mass, it’s quick, to-the-point, and everyone vanishes afterward. Someone told me that’s because of the summertime, and things change once the school year resumes. I hope so: it’s nicer to have a church that also functions as a community rather than just a dispensary of sacraments.
After this Mass ended, though, five people approached me separately and told me how good the kids had been, and how brave was I.
I can’t help but thinking that bravery isn’t quite the term. My children can be obnoxious, but they’re not terrifying. What’s to be scared of, after all? I’m bigger than they are, and I’m the one who dispenses cookies and TV time, allowances and special trips to the park. They can embarrass or infuriate me, sure, but I’m the one with the power to make their lives a bleak misery of greyness.
A similar situation happened before we left Angeltown; the church secretary told me that everyone looked up to us because of “all we did.”
In past years, I might have believed that, when my Patient Husband and I had no Kiddos as yet and volunteered for every activity under the sun. (Under the Son?) But with the Kiddos, all we really did was show up. Show up to religious education, show up to church, show up to the mother’s group.
So let’s look at the course of human history: in the past, sainthood was defined by renouncing the world, making great sacrifices for your faith, risking death, converting entire countries, reforming Christianity, devoting one’s life to theological study, and devising new methods of prayer or religious life.
And in 21st century Christianity, sainthood is defined by “going to church.” So is bravery.
Quite a change.