We had a little 10-year-old girl (and her family) visiting with us the other evening. She astounded me.
Her father asked to see my chapel, and suggested the girl would like to see it to. The father is not a Christian, and is only beginning to begin to see the need for a belief in God. The little girl has had no religious training at all, and did not know much more about Jesus than His name and the fact that He is associated with the Cross.
She was amazed by the chapel, and began to ask all kinds of questions. I answered as best I could, not always sure how much she knew or would understand of my answers. I made a comment in which I used the word "Catholicism", and she exclaimed, "I have no idea what that word you just said means, but I know I want to join your religion!"
After about 10 minutes, her father left us, and we continued our conversation there before the altar of God. She asked questions about Catholic beliefs, and she asked how one could know how to choose a religion to believe in out of all the choices out there. She did tell me that she definitely believed in God, "but I just don't go to church". Well, since her parents don't go, that is understandable!
I asked her how she came to a belief in God. "I had a kitty," she said. "Her name was Precious, and she was very special to me. But then she died, and I was really, really upset. And after a while I sort of got over it, but it just made me wonder...what happens to us when we die? Do we just disappear? It seems like something else must happen."
This struck me as an insight that many adults have yet to achieve! I thought of an article by Fr. Chad Ripperger - I believe it was called "The Sixth Generation"; in it, he talked about seeing an increase in the number of children who are apparently receiving graces that enable them to "see" things more clearly, to hunger for spiritual growth, to understand the faith beyond their years. I wondered if perhaps this little girl was manifesting those graces.
We talked about heaven and hell, and purgatory. She had no idea about what purgatory was, of course, so I explained that most of us need a little cleaning up before we go to Heaven. I asked her to name the famous celebrity she would most like to meet; she named a person whose name sounded vaguely familiar to me, but I didn't really know who it was. No matter; the point is the same. I said, "If I told you that you could meet that person right now, what would you do? Would you want to clean up a little, maybe fix your hair, change your clothes?" That struck a chord! Of course she would! So she then had an idea about the purpose of purgatory.
I think we will talk more. She asked how one becomes Catholic, so we talked a little about that. At this point, it seems her parents are willing for her to explore that avenue, so we shall see what happens. Pray for her, please. I don't want to mention her name here, but God will know who you are praying for. And pray for me, too, that I might respond appropriately to all her questions and provide her with material that will help her grow in faith.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!