When I used to teach catechism, with a loud and hopping little class of eight- and nine-year-olds, most of them were more or less willing to learn how to repent of their little sins.
So we talked about the cross. Of course we talked about the cross.
“Let me see your best sign of the cross,” I would call out in my best teacher voice, with one eye fixed on those two boys who would make the most trouble. “Let’s start the class off right,” I would say. And we would cross ourselves: up, down, left, right, amen, begin.
One of the things I told them about was Miguel Pro. Here was a guy who was so joyful, full of tricks and jokes and trouble, but he was really ready to serve, and things got serious very quickly. He had to sneak around to be a priest, and he soon got arrested for it, and you know the rest.
You know the famous photo, which I decided to show my class: There he stands before the firing squad with his arms out, making a cross with his body. That’s what he decided to do with his life: Make a cross.
I told the kids that, when they were baptized, they were marked with a cross, sealed, signed. “You know how pirates do,” I said. (Things pop out of your mouth when you’re in front of a group of kids). “You know how, when they bury their treasure, they mark the spot so they can come back for it? How do they mark it?”
They all knew it was with an X. “Well, God marks his treasure with a cross,” I said. “That’s where his treasure is: That’s the spot that he wants to come back to. That’s the thing that he cares about: Right in the middle of the cross.”
And they believed me. They knew that Jesus was on the cross, and they saw that, when they made the cross on themselves, they were right there, with Jesus.
Plain as day. I thought about having them stand and make a cross with their bodies like Miguel Pro about to be shot full of holes, but we settled for making a sign on ourselves, marking the spot where God’s treasure is.
It’s right there: Up, down, left, right, amen. And I had them shout: VIVA CHRISTO REY. It was close to the end of class, and any time we had a little free time, we got a little shouting in. VIVA CHRISTO REY.
I know this is too much for little children.
Who is this not too much for? …Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.
Image: Execution of Miguel Pro by Grentidez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons