A small thing, perhaps, but one of the joys of Sunday is standing in the narthex after Mass to greet the parishioners. Of course, much of it can be little more than the “good morning, nice to see you today” kind of greeting. And when I say it, I really do mean it. It is nice to see these faithful and wonderful people week after week, as well as speaking briefly with the many visitors. It’s interesting to find out where they’re from – Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, New York, various towns and cities around the country. Very few of our visitors come by accident. Most are here because they’ve heard of the parish, or they’ve seen the website, or someone told them that if they’re in San Antonio they “just have to visit Our Lady of the Atonement.” It’s always a pleasure to welcome people here.
But the greater joy for me is greeting the children when they’re coming out with their parents. I have seen more new teeth, examined more scraped knees, and given more birthday blessings than I can count. I’ve got one little boy who loves to wrap himself in my cope while I’m talking to his parents, and there’s another child who has to give me a complete report of his week’s activities. For many of them it’s an absolute routine, and they won’t move on until we’ve done the handshaking and they’ve had their say.
I marvel at the patience of those who are still in line making their way out of the church. I guess people know how important this is to the children, and they’re happy to indulge them this bit of time. And I guess they’re indulging me, too. Yesterday one of the precious little girls came and pulled on my vestments so that I would bend down. She wanted to whisper something to me. “What is it?” I asked. “I love you, Father,” she said. How do you top that?