The Prayer to St. Michael has long been one of my favorites (see my sidebar!). I've always had a competitive, fighting spirit, especially when it comes to defending what's right. Now that I'm a pro-life activist, this prayer has infinitely powerful meaning. We are fighting a war, after all. It's just such a tough, positive, warrior-like prayer...it keeps me motivated.
We recently decided it was time to add another prayer to our son's bedtime repertoire. He's had the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Guardian Angel Prayer, Glory Be, Hail Mary, and Our Father down pat for a long time now. He's definitely ready for a new one. So we chose the Prayer to St. Michael. He followed along and repeated for a few nights and then something went awry.
Apparently that prayer doesn't have quite the same meaning to a 4 year old. I hadn't thought of that.
We said it 3 or 4 nights in a row and he was just starting to get it. Then one night my husband was working late so Jack and I were saying the prayer together. We said the first few words, then he stopped and said he didn't want to say it anymore. I asked him why and he, terrified, started bawling and said, "Because I don't want to go to Heaven!!!!"
I was heartbroken!
Not because I think he wants to go to Hell, but because to a 4 year old, "I don't want to go to Heaven" is the same thing as "I don't want to die." He was terrified of dying! This isn't something we've discussed in very much detail yet, but he has always gotten the idea of what dying is - basically going away and not coming back. But I think the St. Michael prayer's graphic imaging of "snares of the Devil" and "casting into Hell" were really too much for him!
He started asking me when he'd be able to come back to Earth after going to Heaven. He told me he didn't want to be away from Mommy (*tear*). But most of all, he "heard on TV" (not sure if that's true) that there's no food in Heaven! That one really opened the flood gates. He just couldn't continue.
We didn't know if it was a one-time thing, but ever since then when we ask him to say the Prayer to St. Michael, he tells us that he wants to say his own prayer instead. Which is fine - they're usually adorable, though some are just ridiculous stall tactics that go on an on about nothing at all (lots of "um, well, see...").
From now on I think we'll save the Prayer to St. Michael until he's a little older. Maybe we'll switch to Come Holy Spirit for now. It's more upbeat and who could be upset with "fill the hearts of thy faithful?" He's always been a big fan of hearts!