By ZOE CANNON
GRATITUDE FOR THE GIFT OF FAITH
“One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
“The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom”(CCC 2207).
The greatest gift you can give a child is knowledge of God the Creator. In the Baltimore Catechism, I learned that God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world – and to be happy with Him forever in heaven. The witness of faithful people inspired me to put these principles into practice.
We must share our faith and the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection with little ones. Resources are available, but finding the time to sit down and share is not always a priority. Sunday Mass is an opportunity for the family to pray together, but the faith journey of a child begins before they sit in the pew.
Years ago, we took our four little children to see Disney’s “Bambi” at the theatre. The movie begins with the sound of gunshots as Bambi and his mother romp through the meadow; and suddenly, Bambi is alone. This prompted questions and outbursts of tears in the movie theatre. I remember thinking, “why am I so afraid to talk about the life and death of Jesus, or stories about the lives of saints to our children? The realities of life and death are all around us!”
We cannot shield our children from scary things. We can, however, offer appropriate explanations about God’s plan for life – and eternal life in heaven. Don’t let society dictate what your children learn about life. Your own beliefs – not someone else’s idea of truth – is what they need to hear.
My maternal grandmother was a faithful Catholic. Her actions and prayer life were very visible to me. I want to be that same influence in the life of my grandchildren. Children comprehend more than you realize when given information about the Triune God, the Holy Family, the gift of the sacraments and the Mass. I recognize how much information I need to share from the questions they ask.
Our two-year-old granddaughter visited one Sunday and discovered a small, plastic statue of the Blessed Mother in a cabinet. I asked her if she knew who it was and she quickly answered, “Mother Mary, and I want to take her home with me.” The 6-inch statue had belonged to our Aunt Dot, who lived just a few months shy of 100 years. Her Catholic faith was important, and she spent many volunteer hours in the church. When she passed, we brought home many of her sacramental treasures and Catholic items to share with future generations. I was happy our granddaughter was interested in taking Mary home with her; and most important, pleased that her parents had taught her who this beautiful Lady was.
The next day, I received a collage of pictures from my daughter-in-law. Unprovoked, Vella Ann had decided that Mary would spend the day with her. There were pictures of Mary at her learning table, the playground, prayer before lunch, naptime, and my favorite – showing Mary a fire truck she saw parked outside. When she was tucked in at night, she was still talking to Mary about their day. Spiritual treasures and the witness of faith must be shared, one generation to the next! God is with us always! Amen!