A few Sundays ago, I was sitting in front of a boy and his mother in church. He was about 4 to 5 years old and, being true to his age, somewhat wiggly.

However, it was easy to learn where his attention really was when the priest announced, “We will now have the presentation of the gifts.” The little boy remarked in a stage whisper, “There’s going to be GIFTS?” In spite of all his seeming inattention, he heard the magic word.

After Mass, I turned to speak to the mother, repeated his question and asked what answer she had given him. In

Things to do

INSPIRIO – Information session for donors, parents and friends “A Vision of Ministry: Forming Young Disciples” on Feb. 16 at 7 a.m., at Inspirio (with breakfast at 8 a.m. for those who RSVP) and 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 25 at a location to be determined. Check www.inspirioyouth.org/newvision or call (262) 966-1800 for updates.

Late winter/spring offerings at Redemptorist Retreat Center, Oconomowoc: Silent Preached Holy Week Retreat, directed by Fr. John G. Yockey, Monday, March 21 (4 p.m.) to Saturday, March 26 by 1 p.m.  Twenty-two hour Silent Preached retreats from Friday at 6 p.m. to Saturday at 3 p.m.: for women (April 22 to 23), for men (May 20 to 21), Spring Marian Day of Prayer – Wednesday, May 11 – centered on the importance of being transformed into the likeness of Christ, 9:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. $25 per person.  Phone (262) 567-6900 or visit website at www.redemptoristretreat.org – Oconomowoc.

— Compiled by Joan King

surprise, she replied that she had reprimanded him for talking in church without really listening or hearing what he had said. Most busy mothers are likely guilty of similar selective hearing.  

So, who was really paying attention? This little boy heard about GIFTS and his ears perked up. For what was he hoping? Hot Wheels? A game?

All of us – parents, grandparents, friends – may tune out those around us unintentionally because we are distracted, or maybe not focused enough on what is really happening.  

When we attend Mass, are we really fully aware of the gifts we receive by our presence and participation? The gifts we are given – bread and wine changed to the body and blood of Christ – are unique. These gifts also reinforce our presence and participation as we join in sharing the deep love and respect for the mystery and essential part of the Mass and our faith.

But, a gift is not complete until it is received and accepted. How often do we consider this when we are bodily present at Mass?

I prayed that the little boy, too small to understand the great mystery of this gift now, would one day realize the true gift waiting at Mass. How many of us really realize the greatness of this gift when we are kneeling in the pews? And how do we accept it?

What do we give to Jesus in return? Perhaps during Lent, it would be possible to add a weekday Mass or Lenten service to a busy schedule.

Our very presence is a gift – of ourself to Jesus, and to those in the congregation with whom we bond in faith. We acknowledge those around us as we enter and leave and during the sign of peace.  

After Mass, we can also take time to share the good news with others, including our spouse and family, by discussing the homily.

My late brother-in-law, who came from a strict Catholic Polish family, knew that he had to listen to the sermon or there would be dire consequences.

After Mass every Sunday, he and his brothers were a captive audience in the car on the way home as their dad quizzed them about “what Father had said” and they had better be able to repeat the sermon.

I never heard what the “dire consequences” were. Evidently, just the threat was enough to be sure they would remember what was said from the pulpit.  

By becoming more aware of our faith gifts, we can help others to recognize and know the gifts of Jesus — those we are given to share. Take the Lord with you when you leave the church and spread the Good News.

(King, a member of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.)