Children have absorbent minds. Really, we all do. Our brains are wired for learning. We take in our environment, observe patterns, and organize information without any conscious consideration. With young children, leading them to Jesus is not about creating the right catechetical framework; it’s about cultivating an environment that makes it easier for the seeds the Father is planting to grow. So what are the important elements of this environment? Here are 10 of the ways our family seeks to cultivate devotion right now.
The checklist is so tempting not because it is bad to accomplish the things the Lord has entrusted to us; that is its very allure. Even the most good and beautiful and holy work becomes idolatrous when it eclipses what is greater. My checklist is useful. And really, that is all. It is a reminder of what I'd like to do, not an indicator of how well I am doing.
When I imagine myself in the story of the prodigal son, I am the older brother - the brother who is glad when his good-for-nothing sibling leaves home because it makes him look so much better by comparison. He preoccupies himself more with how his brother’s absence benefits him than with compassion for his father’s broken heart. With the younger brother gone, it’s all about me.
I’ve never known a Catholic Church that wasn’t part of the sexual abuse crisis. When it first began, I was a child, a non-Catholic student in a Catholic school, and the news held little meaning for me beyond its significance as another tragic headline. When I became Catholic in college years later, the crisis seemed…
If I stop to slow down and pay attention, I do hear God's call, right in the middle of the clatter of dishes going back into the cupboards (when my husband puts them away, because, yet again, I was too tired). The mission to love in this vocation is a series of simple choices, and hearing God's call is as easy as taking a moment to breathe in awareness of the purpose in my actions. Each small choice to care for our home and my family is the choice of love. Each time I choose to set aside my own weariness to play with my baby or encourage my husband, in a small way, I mimic Christ's self-sacrifice on the cross. And when I take the time to offer myself as gift to my loved ones, I enjoy the gift of love, of life fully lived. Resurrection dawns in my heart, and the beauty of this vocation outshines its difficulties.
God was offering me a glimpse of what he feels for us when we turn away from him in moments of fear, of shame, of self-loathing. The isolation of sin is self imposed. If only we would turn to God, we would see the face of love. Like the father in the story of the prodigal son, he waits and watches for us to come to home. Our capacity to receive his mercy is contingent only on our own willingness to turn and embrace it.