Home Page Home Page
Front Page News Digest Cardinal George Observations The Interview MarketPlace
Learn more about our publication and our policies
Send us your comments and requests
Subscribe to our print edition
Advertise in our print edition or on this site
Search past online issues
Site Map
New World Publications
Periódieo oficial en Español de la Arquidióesis de Chicago
Archdiocesan Directory
Order Directory Online
Link to the Archdiocese of Chicago's official Web site.
The Catholic New World
Observations - by Tom Sheridan, Editor

September 26, 2004

Thinking small

Some things aren’t always as they seem.

The other day, on one of the live, call-in radio shows Father Greg Sakowicz and I host for the Archdiocese of Chicago on Relevant Radio (820 AM, Mondays and Fridays), we chatted with a couple of women about a program called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a unique effort which helps teach children about God and the faith.

One of the goals of the radio program—as well as The Catholic New World, I’m quick to add—is to help people discover something they might not have known about their faith, about their God … or even about themselves.

Anyway, one of the guests, Suzanne Lewis, came into the studio carrying a little wooden box. It was so decorative that I asked for a peek inside. But inside was another little box, made from a ceramic or a stone of some sort.

Not one to be easily deterred, I asked what was in THAT box. She opened it and it appeared empty. All this, you understand, was happening on live radio. I was beginning to think it was “confuse the host day.”

The guest pointed to a few tiny specks littering the bottom of the box. I was ready to call a flea alert right there in the studio, but she calmed me down enough to tell me they were mustard seeds. Mustard seeds from the Holy Land.

The seeds, she explained, were a hands-on exhibit to teach biblical truths to small children. It, of course, recalls the Scripture in which Jesus talks about having faith “even as small as a mustard seed” and being able to accomplish great things.

What’s the part about things not always being as they seem?

I remembered the dinner-table conversations which centered around questions our kids brought back from religious education classes. One question had to do with the mustard seed Scripture. One of our kids—I don’t recall which one—grabbed a jar from the kitchen spice rack and promptly poured mustard seeds all over the table … and the floor. “But these seeds aren’t small,” the kid said. “Was Jesus, wrong, Dad? These are pretty big seeds.”

That was something I learned a long time ago in a Scripture course, but which some people may not know: American-type mustard and Jesus-type mustard are quite different. And I’m not talking about taste, wimpy yellow mustard, spicy brown or Grey Poupon. The variety from the Holy Land are just specks, and make ours look like BBs. Hence the parable, and the fact that Jesus wasn’t wrong.

When you mix kids and God, things are often not always like they seem.

That last tale got me thinking about how we always encouraged our children to talk conversationally with God and to offer grace before meals that was spontaneous and not always rote prayer.

Don’t get me wrong; the traditional prayers of the church are of course good and have a place. But so, too, does a conversational connection with God.

Anyway, we had a large family gathering and it was our then-sixth-grade son’s turn to offer grace. He discovered, apparently, what he believed was the best of both worlds. He prayed:

“God is rad; God is a dude. Thank you God, for our food.”

A translation is appropriate. “Rad” was then-current slang for something pretty darn good. (He called me “rad” once and I glowed for days.) “Dude” is still slang for a guy who’s cool.

The grace earned a frosty eye from a couple of extended family members, but for me, it spoke of a young man’s comfort, his familiarity, with God.

And, as any parent of a sixth-grade boy knows, that’s not always like it seems.

Tom Sheridan
Editor and General Manager



Front Page | Digest | Cardinal | Observations | Interview | Classifieds | About Us | Write Us | Subscribe | Advertise | Archive | Catholic Sites New World Publications | Católico | Katolik | Directory Site Map