April 30, 2010

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Children can grow close to Christ in Communion

Sean GallagherI began writing this column in The Criterion almost eight years ago. In one of my first columns, I reflected on a question put to my wife, Cindy, and me when our oldest son, Michael, was baptized on June 8, 2002:

“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility of training him in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”

I admitted back in that column that this question was a daunting one. It still is today. I knew then, as prone to sin as I was, that undertaking the spiritual guidance of my newborn son was a duty that I would surely fail at were it not for our heavenly Father’s mercy and grace.

The last eight years have confirmed this intuition. I have failed many times to be a good father for Michael. But God, in his great goodness, has helped Cindy and I care for his soul despite our—and especially my—failings.

Over that time, I have been blessed to see him grow in his faith. I have seen him learn many prayers and many time-tested teachings of our faith. And I can see a budding relationship between him and our Lord.

All of this comes to mind because last Sunday Michael took another important step in his life of faith. He received his first Communion, which I believe will greatly deepen his relationship with the Lord in the years to come.

Michael can’t be expected at this point to understand how awesome a gift the Eucharist is for us. He can’t know yet how close the Lord can draw us to himself in this great sacrament.

Indeed, until the day we die, all of us can grow in our appreciation of the Eucharist and into greater intimacy with Christ through our frequent reception and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

That is my great hope for Michael as he no longer sits in the pew at Communion, but will approach the altar with Cindy and me. I also hope that Michael will also grow in his friendship with Christ as he comes to know his loving mercy through regular celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation.

It is also my hope for the other boys and girls in Michael’s first Communion class and for all Catholic children.

For the next decade, Cindy and I will continue to be directly responsible for Michael’s spiritual guidance. I am confident that our heavenly Father will continue to support us as we strive to lead him closer to Christ.

Knowing from personal experience how much we need God’s help in raising our children in the faith leads me to want to pray more frequently for all Christian parents and to invite all of you to do the same.

In the weeks and months leading up to Michael’s first Communion, I prayed for him and his classmates pretty regularly. But we parents need a lot of help, too.

If we storm heaven with prayers, just think of the effect on our families, the Church and the world if more children were trained well “in the practice of the faith,” if they learned well how “to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us by loving God and our neighbor,” if they became close friends of our Lord in the Eucharist.†

Local site Links: