We left the house all giddy and met several of our family members at nearby gas station to begin the caravan to the courthouse. I joked about being in labor, yelling occasionally with a "contraction", and the boys laughed about me "birthing" a 5 ft, 4 inch, 95 pound 13 year old in a few hours. The 35 minute drive seemed to take hours, but we finally arrived at the courthouse---four carloads full!
Next, came the hard part, the sitting and waiting for our turn.
At least this time, we had lots of family to keep us company while we waited.
Finally, they called us into the courtroom where the judge questioned Philip to make sure that this was what he wanted. After she confirmed that being adopted into our family was what he desired, she signed the papers! His name was changed. He was officially ours. No one could try to take him away from us. After three years of fighting for what was best for Philip, it was decided that we were what was best for him!
This would be the last time we would have to appear in this courtroom. The judge that had seemed so cold throughout our three year journey seemed to be just as relieved and excited for this case to finally be over and for Philip to finally have closure. She quickly came down and posed for pictures with us and allowed the kids to go sit in her chair which they had secretly been hoping to do all morning.
I'm pretty sure that we all floated out the courthouse afterwards since this huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders, but the day wasn't nearly over. We still had something even more special coming later that day. Philip was going to be baptized into the Church that afternoon. Our awesome pastor had agreed to hold a special Mass that day so that Philip would "not have to wait any longer."
After a celebratory shopping trip and lunch, we headed back home to prepare for the next ceremony. He had chosen to wear a suit for this very special event. He looked so handsome! But best of all he was wearing the biggest smile that I had ever seen him wear. When we arrived at the church, we found it already filled with family and friends waiting to celebrate this special Mass with us. Some had left work early to be there. Some had traveled all day just to be there. We felt so blessed.
As the first reading began, my eyes began to fill with tears. The reading was Saul's conversion and baptism. (Acts of the Apostles 9:1-20) Philip's conversion had happened about a year after he moved in with us about two years prior to this day. He had been sitting in on many family rosaries, daily and Sunday Masses, retreats, youth group talks, etc. He knew he needed to be baptized. He knew he wanted to receive Jesus. His devotion to his personal prayer time, to reading the scriptures, and to learning about the faith, assured us that his eyes had been opened and God was preparing him for something, something BIG. This reading was perfect for today---conversion and baptism!
Then came the responsorial psalm. The psalm was Psalm 117. Yes, praise the Lord for His faithfulness and mercy! Perfect! But the people's response to this psalm was from Mark 16:15. As it was being read, I saw a huge grin come over our oldest son's face who was serving on the altar. "Are you kidding me?" I thought as I chuckled. This was the verse that had been appearing everywhere during our discernment of missions.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."One of the prayers that we had had for months now was, "Lord, IF you are REALLY calling us to be foreign missionaries, we can't go without Philip, and we can't take him unless he's legally ours, so handle this so that we know that you are really calling us." This responsorial was our answer and our confirmation---He was really calling us into foreign missions and He had taken care of that roadblock earlier that day.
One would think that those two were enough mind blowing readings for the day, but God wasn't quite done. He still had some showing off to do. The day's Gospel reading was none other than John 6:52-59.
...Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day...Not only was Philip going to be baptized at this Mass, but he would be making his First Holy Communion too. He would be eating Jesus' flesh and drinking His blood for the first time. This Gospel was not another "coincidence" either. It had also been hand picked by God Himself for just for us on this very day.
Numerous times these past few months, the evil one has tried to make us doubt our Catholic faith and our belief in the Eucharist. Many times lately I have prayed for God to take away these doubts planted to distract us from our call to be Catholic missionaries. My prayer has been "Lord, I believe, take away my unbelief." (Mark 9:24) That Gospel reading was the answer to my prayer. God was confirming to me that the Eucharist IS the body, blood, soul, and divinity of His son Jesus Christ.
God had used this Mass to confirm that everything we have been doing and that everything He is calling us to do is His will for our family. He confirmed that He does hear our prayers and answers them in His perfect timing. He confirmed that He will always be there for us guiding our path and showing us the Way. He confirmed that we have an awesome faith community behind us to help us through this journey with their prayers and support.
This was the day that the Lord had made just for us.