Grace; suffering; action

By Zoe Cannon

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”(2 Peter 1:2).

I have enjoyed many years of faith sharing with people seeking to know more about the Catholic Church as an adult catechist. This year I added a new role to my religious-instruction opportunities. I am privileged to help our daughter homeschool our grandsons, who are ages 4, 5 and 7. I offered to teach religion and United States History, two subjects I am very passionate about.

The lesson plan I prepared one afternoon provided an opportunity to discuss both subjects with a common theme of obedience and freedom. It was actually unintentional, but kids are very astute, and they pointed out the connection at the end of the day. We were studying the Ten Commandments in Religion class, and the mysteries of God became the main focus. I had planned to discuss the gift of grace and free will given to help us make good choices with the laws God provides. But there were many questions from the 4-year-old about how the tablets appeared to Moses and what God used to write the words on the stone; so the great mysteries of God became the central topic. Children are brilliant, visual, creative and very literal.

Our history lesson was taken from a book titled: “What Are Your Rights?” We are learning about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, K-through-2nd grade style.  The fourth chapter in the book was about the responsibilities of good citizens. One of the boys began looking through the book and said, “I think they should have a list of the Ten Commandments in here.” I wish everyone could appreciate the importance of following rules, and understand that in our obedience we are protected and liberated in this world by the grace of God.

We waste a lot of time when we are not doing anything that is of value to God. People also waste a lot of time feeling unloved, which is sad because we are surrounded by love from God at the moment of our conception. There are many brokenhearted people who need to know about His merciful love, and the act of saving souls is the greatest action of all. No one talks about the merits of redemptive suffering, and society creates a remedy to mask or end the need to persevere in tough times. If we are not helping young people to encounter a personal relationship with Jesus, then we are creating a generation who will never understand the message of redemptive suffering.

There is a book titled “Five Loaves and Two Fish,” written by Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. He was arrested in 1975 by the Communist government of Vietnam and imprisoned for 13 years, nine of which were in solitary confinement. He shared the reflections from his book during “World Youth Day” in Paris, in 1997. The content is a personal story and the wonders God worked in the sufferings of his life. Much like the fish and loaves in the Gospel, which fed thousands of people, our own life experiences can help others realize that grace; suffering and action can make a difference in the world.

The hatred we witness in our current culture is destroying hope for future generations! “If we claim to have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth”(1 John 1:6).  Teach children about God’s merciful love by the actions in your life. Be a light for Christ! Peace will follow! Amen!