The television newscast of a Catholic bishop chasing a girl in her soccer outfit off the steps of a Cathedral caught the attention of people around the world. Everyone wanted to know what it was all about. Suddenly reporters began to call the Chancery of the Diocese of Helena and the home of Catie Jo. The Diocese of Helena issued a no comment statement. Catie Jo’s parents said that no one from their family would speak to the press. The only other person, who knew what was happening was Fr. Hugh. He immediately called Catie Jo’s mother, Anne, who he had taught when she was in college, and arranged for a meeting with her and her husband, Pete.
Not only did they come to meet with Fr. Hugh, but Catie Jo’s two older brothers, Matt and Michael also came. Fr.Hugh sat in his office looking at four people, whose faith in the 11-year-old girl was amazing. Anne said she had always been a girl rich in imagination; an imagination that often became real in remarkable ways. Pete said he learned to believe his daughter when she suggested things. He told a story about how she warned him that he needed to take care of the pipe on their woodstove when she was six. It turned out the stovepipe was dangerously blocked and could have led to a serious incident if he had waited to check it. This was only one example of many things that led them to trust her.
Matt was a high school wrestler, who would only say his sister could take care of herself, but if she couldn’t he would be there to help her. Michael, who was graduating from high school and was an aspiring writer, brought his notebooks which documented the interesting things Catie Jo had said since she was seven.
They all knew she needed patience and love.
Fr. Hugh thought they might blame him for encouraging her in her imaginative relationships, but her parents told him they trusted him and knew that she was lucky to have someone like him to help her. As he looked at the four of them, he felt a thrill of anticipation move up his spine. Catie Jo had a devoted following in these four and the fact that they were her own family was even more remarkable. They only thing they wanted to ensure was that she had a normal childhood, as normal as possible.
Later that day Catie Jo came by to see Fr. Hugh. She was quieter than normal, but she didn’t seem upset or anxious. She asked Fr. Hugh to say a prayer with her. She prayed first for the Bishop, who needed her understanding, and then she prayed for her family.
She also prayed for a Church that needed something from her. She was embarrassed to say that the Church needed her help, but if it was so, she hoped she could offer the help that was needed. The priest and the little girl sat in silence. Fr. Hugh had the feeling again that she was guiding him down a road that he had to travel with her. To himself he asked for the humility that the young girl had.
As if she was reading his mind, Catie Jo said that Jesus needed people to be more humble. Fr. Hugh took a deep breath and asked her what she meant. She said that’s what everyone agreed when “the terrible T’s” came by to talk.
Fr. Hugh had to ask who the T’s were. Catie Jo said “That’s what Catherine called the Theresa’s,” whom Catherine accused of “traveling in a pack.” Fr. Hugh sat back in his chair realizing that whether he wanted it or not, he was along for the ride.
The girl added that it was the Big T, who especially thought people should be more humble when they came before the Eucharist.
Fr. Hugh felt himself making an important choice, relinquishing a lifetime of fears and concerns, as he suggested that the Big T was probably Teresa of Avila.
Catie Jo said,” Of course it was. The Big T asked me to start a little campaign to show people how to be more humble and respectful before the Eucharist. The Big T wanted to give up genuflecting.”
After all, she was another Church doc, so Catie Jo believed her when she said that genuflecting was an excuse for people to hide behind their unworthiness. They needed to stand up and look Jesus in the eye, accepting their call to be the partners in love that he called them to be, to see themselves as he saw them. The Big T said they needed to get beyond the worm thing.
Fr. Hugh asked what the worm thing was.
“You know, when you feel like an unworthy worm, when you realize how much God loves you,” she responded. “When you think about it, after a while you realize worms play a great part in creation. Then you feel Jesus lifting you and telling you to stand up and accept who you are … without groveling.”
Catie Jo added, “I think the word groveling is more T’s than Jesus’. The Big T says that groveling is only a sign that you aren’t humble enough to stop using your sinfulness as an excuse to become a true instrument of Jesus’ love.”
Fr. Hugh tapped on an envelope on his desk that contained the Bishop’s letter of support and the Vatican’s encouragement of the new devotion of people genuflecting before they received the Eucharist.
“And I suppose, you have some plans about how to do this,” he said smiling at Catie Jo, who smiled back at him.