There they stood lined up before the Altar after Friday daily Mass. About 20 elementary age boys and girls from our parish academy. The girls wore white dresses and veils and the boys were properly dark-suited. They had taken an initial step of faith to receive their First Communion for which they had been preparing throughout the year. Each had just been given a sash with the emblems of the Seven Sacraments.
A bit of wiggling, shy smiling to parents and congregation, and then they began to sing a simple, winsome, repetitive song that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind and heart since. It was accompanied with appropriate gestures that described the words:
“JESUS IN MY HEART
JESUS IN MY MIND
JESUS IN MY WORDS
JESUS IN MY ACTIONS.”
Verses followed with other words substituted for the subject:
LOVE is in my heart…PEACE is in my heart…JOY….
They concluded with:
“JESUS FILL MY HEART
JESUS FILL MY MIND
JESUS FILL MY WORDS
JESUS FILL MY ACTIONS.”
So endearing, so faith-grounded in biblical Truth that would serve them for a lifetime and beyond! (Then parental cameras began to snap of course!)
All through the day I catch myself embracing that tune with words of my own adapted to my season of life and state in life: “JESUS IN MY LIFE, JESUS IN MY DAY, JESUS IN MY WRITING, JESUS IN MY WITNESS, JESUS IN MY SPEECH, JESUS IN MY THINKING, JESUS IN MY WORRIES, JESUS IN MY FEARS, JESUS IN MY SLEEPING…on and on throughout the common experiences of my present daily moments at my chronological age.
I think of the beloved hymns of my evangelical days—still valid and deeply spiritually edifying—the moving surrender and consecration hymns and praise choruses. I have not nor do I need to abandon them in favor of exclusively singing the many beautiful, new and poignant Catholic hymns. I still turn so often to the Protestant hymnal during my worship time. Jesus said that the Father seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. God’s truth is wherever He sees fit to reveal it without respect to the channel. He is the Ultimate Source. This is another “both/and” which continues to fulfill me.
In echo of the children’s chorus above, I treasure the composer Frances Ridley Havergal who lived in the 1800s who wrote the hymn, “TAKE MY LIFE AND LET IT BE”
“Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days—let them flow in ceaseless praise.”
And then the composer, as the First Communion youngsters did, added other words of specific surrender: “TAKE MY HANDS, FEET, VOICE, LIPS, SILVER AND GOLD, INTELLECT, WILL, HEART, LOVE, MYSELF…and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.”
At the heart of my surrender is for the Lord to completely fill me with Himself.
The kids have it right, yes, right from the start: “JESUS IN MY HEART and in ALL OF MY LIFE--including the latter season of my life when Jesus is pleased to see me advance to be more childlike!”