On most days, my job brings me a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Sometimes, it even brings me joy! I am aware that for many people “work” is really a four letter word. Life passes so quickly that it must be very difficult to feel stuck (for whatever reason) in a job one hates. I have been blessed!
I had the pleasure of talking with two precious, young students this morning. Unfortunately, it was about their lack of mass attendance on Sundays. Little ones can be so honest. Sometimes the truths they reveal can embarrass the heck out of us! Without prompting, the first young student told me that “his mom said that he did not have to attend mass on Sunday since we took him at school on Mondays.” Shortly thereafter, the second little one confessed to me that her family hadn’t gone to church on the weekend in quite a while. “My parents must keep forgetting,” she told me.
Looking into these beautiful, innocent faces, I was heartbroken for them. These children are at an age where they are so open to God – so open to faith. It makes me sad that this precious faith forming time is passing them by. I’m not throwing any stones! I am often guilty of letting a teaching moment slip away, or not making more time to pray with my children. I have room for improvement – for sure!
Sometimes people stop going to church because they have doubts about their faith – or perhaps they are angry with God. Many of the great saints were plagued with doubts. Many have had long periods of spiritual dryness when they felt as though they had been abandoned by God. The key is to remain faithful (in prayer and church attendance) until your dryness ends or your questions are answered. That’s one of the ways that some of the great saints became saints! We are all called to be saints!
As parents, it is our vocation – our calling from God- to raise our children in the Faith for Him. It is the most important job we have – to see to our children’s spiritual health. As husband and wives, our #1 job is to help our spouses get to heaven. God is going to hold us responsible for what we have done and have failed to do in getting our family members to heaven – in helping or hindering them.
Some people are under the mistaken assumption that we take our families to church to be entertained. If mass is “boring,” they would just assume not attend. It’s not about us! We go to church because we owe God praise and worship. He is the giver of all good things. He is the sole reason that we have all that we have. When my little “monk” (as I sometimes silently refer to him) complains about having to go to church, I tell him that we have to go to thank God for his toys, his cozy bed, his video games, etc. I tell him that without God, he wouldn’t have any of those cool things. We owe God thanksgiving.
The years between toddlerhood and preteen are “primetime” for instilling the Faith in our children. Habits of prayer, mass attendance and religious traditions are formed when these little ones are so open. With reinforcement ( and lots of prayer), these treasures from God will take root and grow. As anyone with older children knows, the bigger the kid, the bigger the problems. We need to equip our children with faith and religious routines ( prayer, confession, adoration, going to mass) to give them something firm to hold onto when times get rough. My twenty year old recently had a small crisis. Before calling me to ask advice, he went to the adoration chapel to talk to God. I was so proud of him! That’s the way to handle a problem – bring it to God first!
Our children are God’s children. He’s counting on us to direct their paths and assist them on their journey to heaven. We must be the primary teachers of the faith. We must set the example by taking our children to mass and participating actively. They are watching us, and will take our lead, if we but only lead. It’s simply much too important to put off or overlook!