“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
I have been blessed with opportunities to share my faith with many people in every phase of my life. Some of these experiences were happenstance, but most required intentional thought. The involvement was usually not a planned event in my daily schedule, but it was perfect in God’s timetable.
Growing up as the oldest of five children, I learned early that it is important to be nurturing. Now, as the mother of four, and a grandmother with seven perfect angels, I have plenty of practice in the art of encouragement. And as I look back on the different ministries I have been involved with in the Church, I can share with confidence that the most precious responsibility in this world is to be a parent! Whether volunteering as a mentor for couples preparing for marriage, helping with pro-life programs and new moms, youth ministry, prison ministry; or taking Holy Communion to the nursing homes, the role of a parent in the journey of life is immeasurable. The lack of familial love leaves a void in many lives. Co-creating precious human life with God is beautiful and quite overwhelming!
St. John Paul II wrote in “Letter to Families,” “Family constitutes the fundamental ‘cell’ of society. But Christ the ‘vine’ from which the ‘branches’ draw nourishment is needed, so this cell will not be exposed to the threat of a kind of cultural uprooting, which can come both from within and from without. The present trends and situations in our culture confirm the possibility of a destructive ‘anti-civilization’ — we are marked by a great ‘crisis of truth’ — a crisis of concepts. Only if the truth about freedom and communion of persons in marriage and in the family can regain its splendor, will the building of the civilization of love truly begin.”
Society has changed the traditional view of family, marriage and parenting. It is challenging to share concerns about this phenomenon with young people who are living the new normal.
During a “vocation” meeting for our parish, a young religious sister from Nigeria sat very quiet as we discussed ideas for promoting all vocations: marriage, priesthood, religious life and consecrated single life. When she addressed the committee her words of wisdom inspired me to write this article. I hope to represent her sincere thoughts with the respect they merit. She looked around the table and asked how many were parents. She told us that we hold the most privileged honor as the person responsible for the life of our children. She said, “The responsibility that parents have is essential to God’s plan for a healthy society and Church.”
The intentional way her father encouraged vocations when she was growing up with her six siblings was very inspiring. Once a month at the dinner table he would write on a piece of paper the job description of different career choices. Included in the list among professions important to the community were religious life and priesthood. During the month the children were asked to choose, research and visit a particular “job,” and in prayer discern if that was where God was calling them to use their talents. Each month a different paper would appear next to the dinner plates for them to either select a new career or revisit the decision they had made the month before. Incredible parenting!
The family is the heart of all development, and the truth about the plan God created for family life is essential. If you feel passionate about issues of life and faith, please open a dialogue with love because you may be the person God is calling to share His love ... in this time! “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23). Amen!