The Second Monday of the Vigil of St. Mary: The First Day of School

One of the gifts of serving in a church called St. Mary’s is having a mom as our patron.  I think of Mary trying to get Jesus up in the morning.  Cleaning up Jesus’ spilled beverages.  Packing his lunch.  Washing his clothes.  Cooking food that Jesus may or may not have liked and listening to his complaints.  Mending clothes torn in play.  Answering Jesus’ questions after school.  Listening to his stories, especially when she was too tired to do so.  Tucking Jesus in at night and praying prayers with him.

It’s good to have Mary as a companion wherever we are in our parenting journey, whether being a biological parent, an adoptive parent, a godparent, and/or a parent in Christ.

Today many students go back to school in our area.  Teachers and school staff have been back for at least a week.  At St. Mary’s, on Sunday, as has been our custom for a number of years, students brought backpacks to be blessed.  Blessings were bestowed on all students and school staff by our whole congregation.

And, as is our custom, we gave out backpack tags with the prayer that the children of St. Mary’s (which means children of all ages) pray:

Good morning God.  This is your day.  I am your child.  Please show me your way.

Moms and dads have told me about praying this prayer with their children in the car on the way to school. I know that it’s the first prayer that comes to my lips each morning.  It’s the breakfast prayer I pray with my grandsons.

I love this prayer.  When I pray it, I hear the voices of the St. Mary’s children praying it with me.  It feels like a new start no matter what has happened the day before.

There’s a commercial on tv that shows a group of children preparing to have a good beginning to a new school year.  They are singing an adaption of the Whitesnake song, “Here I go again.”  It’s the hopeful, kid-friendly version:

I don’t know where I’m going,
But I sure know where I’ve been
I’ve made up my mind,
I’m not wasting no more time
Here I go again on my own,
Going down the only road I’ve ever known

On this first day of school, many children go to school wearing brand new clothes.  They carry new bags to hold lunches and new book bags or backpacks.  However, other children don’t because of economic and social challenges, and we pray for how we can make sure they have the clothes, food, and supplies they need and containers to carry their food and supplies.  How can we share our blessings with all children and help them feel confident and secure?

In God’s kingdom, each day is the first day of life.  Each day, God gives us the garment of Christ to wear, the spiritual food we need, and hands, hearts, and minds to carry everything we need.

And so we pray for our parish family as we are parents to a whole world of children, with Mary as our holy model:

Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. 
Strengthen the faithful,  arouse the careless, and restore the penitent.
Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church;through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

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