…not to be outdone…. (part 1)

advent 1A few months ago, I will visiting a great family that I have known for years.  Well, the follow two blog posts are about a small, fun, and touching incident that had happened while I was with them.  Considering that we are dealing with minors, there have been a number of facts and figures that have been manipulated.  This is part one, and part two will be posted next Wednesday.  God bless you!

PS: the Memorial of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother is on September 8th. 


“It’s Mama Mary’s birthday!” she hollered.

Three boys, all under the age of eight, raised their hands, mimicking their mother.

“Are we having a party?”

“Is there gonna be cake?”

“What do you get Jesus’ mommy for a birthday present?”

“I think we should make her a cake.”

“Do they have parties in heaven?”

“I thought heaven was a giant party, like, like, like—“

photo 2 (2)           “BOYS!” their mother hollered, arching her head back in a laugh.  She looked at them, noticing the eldest rub his finger against the side of his nose, the other two leaning against each other, vying for position.  “Well, you’re right.  We should do something for Mama Mary’s birthday.  What do you get Jesus’s mama, you think?”

“But she has everything,” the eldest responded.

“Joshua’s right on that one,” his mother replied.

“Maybe, maybe-maybe,” the middle boy said, raising his hand, “oh—yeah.  Well, if Mama Mary has everything, what about we—“

“Yeah,” Joshua, the eldest, interjected, “Yeah—give something to someone else.”


I could not believe that I was hearing this right.  Perhaps I’m old and have grown to be too much of a skeptic over my years serving the Church in the west coast.  It’s quite possible.  But I just witnessed this the other day.  I could not—I say again, could NOT—believe my ears.

Joshua mumbled, “We could drop off some canned food at Catholic Charities.”

I felt my eyes pop out of my skull.  This is what I get for doubting the faith of a grade schooler.

“Mama?” the youngest asked, “What about a cake?”

Yeah, I heard that, too.

Moments later, I saw Joshua run up to his mother, his hand cupped in front of him.  He moaned, “I just looked at my bank—I don’t even have a dollar.”

His mother counted the coins.  “Well,” she said, thinking.

I took out some bills and slipped them into his hand.  “Now, I don’t know how much that is, but it should be okay for a present.”

A few hours later, Joshua, his brothers, and their mother left for the grocery store.

Shield c


After the boys had gone to sleep, I played a board game with the boys’ parents.

“How often does something like that happen?” I asked.

Their mother shrugged.  “Well, on Sunday, we were doing a Bible Study and we started talking about the virtue of magnanimity.  You know, the virtue of being generous and all of that.”

“We have these cards that talk about certain aspects of the virtue, you see?” their father explained,  “Then we ask them to explain it in their own words and to give real-life examples.”

“So this week,” I surmised, “they are trying to make examples of how they can be magnanimous?”

They nodded.

I put down my cup.  “I’ve never seen this before.”  I shook my head.  “Dice, please?”

Okay, by now, you must be thoroughly confused.  A few weeks back, I visited some family in the Midwest.  Filipinos in the Midwest…I know, right? Anyway, they homeschool their kids.  Dad works at the office for most of the day.

Personally, it is so easy for me to stay in my clerical bubble.  Interacting with families only on Sundays and only on my terms.  And because we are at Church, everyone wants to make a good impression.  But this is one of the few times in my life where I can interact, closely, within the life of a good ol’ Catholic family. And I tell you, it’s vocation-affirming in every which way.

Shield c

Before the adults went to bed, I was warned that it will be an early morning.

“Am I in trouble?” I asked.

“Aren’t we all?” she responded.  “Actually, I thought of a nice response to the boys’ gift to Mary, so…we’re planning to take off at 8:30.”

“Yes, ma’am.”


Because of the length of the tale, I have been asked to split the story over two posts.  Thus, the conclusion of our tale will post next Wednesday. God bless you! 


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