How Not to Talk About Abundance:
It was second grade and Father Mullen had come to speak to our class in preparation for our First Holy Communion Service, the following Saturday. He had a message for us to take home to our parents, he said. The good Father, a Ph.D. in History, a celibate, scholar, and someone who rarely engaged in a conversation with anyone younger than
high school may not have been the best spokesperson to connect deeply with seven year olds.
Father Mullen began to tell us what would not be allowed on Saturday by way of behavior, dress or parental behavior. He described in words we did not understand what was expected at the Saturday Mass. This was the 1960s, and though we did not understand much at all of what he was telling us, we could tell from his fervor that it
might be best to sit quietly, hands on our desks as he, the holy priest, continued to speak over our heads. Though I tried to process it, I could not catch much more than his absolutist manner. When parents could take photographs, something about not leaving early unless, something about a memento something. Whatever it was he expected us to
relay to our parents was way more than my second grade mind could make sensible. I could only read the anxiety around me knowing if I was struggling, so were others. Signaling a big finish, Fr. Mullen told us all…“Let me make myself abundantly clear…”
Oh yeah, I thought. I don’t know what I am supposed to tell my Mother. Nothing is clear but now, at last, I will be told what it is I am about to say…but nothing after that was any more sensible than what went before. For some reason, I could sit silent no more. Shooting my hand in the air so purposely, it was not ignorable, he relented before going on.
“Miss Pupke, what is it?”
Father, what is an “A-bun- dant-ly”. What does it mean?
He stopped, looked at us, and realized we were more polite than comprehending. Defeated, he looked at our teacher and he left the room. Our teacher, beloved by us all said: Abundant – It means a lot, a whole lot. Like God’s
love for you, like your parents love for you. Father Mullen just wants you all to show them all how much you love them too when Saturday comes.
I can do that.