June 26, 2015

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Never stop taking steps of faith throughout life

Sean GallagherThe great American philosopher Yogi Berra—who also was a Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees—once wisely said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

The truth of that aphorism was proved in the Gallagher household when I witnessed our son, Colin, who will turn 2 in September, do something that his 13-year-old brother Michael did when he was his age.

For a while, my wife, Cindy, and I would get Colin’s attention when the family was seated for supper, point to a crucifix on the wall and say, “Jesus.”

So recently, we asked him, “Colin, where’s Jesus?” His eyes scanned the room and when he saw the crucifix, a big smile broke out across his face as he pointed to it.

And that wasn’t all. While pointing to the crucifix, Colin said “Jesus.” Of course, he said it in the unclear voice of a toddler. But having previously raised four other boys through that stage of life, I’m pretty adept at interpreting their first words.

I started gaining that experience when Michael did the same thing about 11 years ago when he, Cindy and I were living in our first home in eastern Bartholomew County.

Our family has changed so much in the intervening period. We’ve moved to Indianapolis, and God has blessed us with four more boys.

And I’ve seen Michael grow in his knowledge of and love for the faith. One of the things he likes to do the most is to serve as an altar boy at Mass.

I also see now that Michael, like many other youths his age, is entering a period where he’s changing and is challenged to apply the faith that he learned as a toddler and child to his life as an adolescent.

With the help of God’s grace, Cindy and I will strive to accompany him on this journey, just as we helped him recognize Jesus and say his name for the first time 11 years ago.

Hopefully the experience we’ll gain in continuing to hand on the faith to Michael in his teenage years, and Raphael, Victor and Philip after him, will help us a decade or so from now when Colin, God willing, will enter adolescence.

I would also hope that a decade from now the faith that Cindy and I have in Christ and our relationship with him and the Church will be deeper.

Growing in faith and allowing ourselves to be drawn closer to Christ is, after all, a pilgrimage that will not end until, by the help of God’s grace, we arrive at our heavenly home.

But no matter what stage of life in which you find yourself, the first simple steps of faith that Cindy and I are helping Colin take are always important to return to in life.

We have to seek the face of the Lord in the midst of our ordinary daily lives like Colin looks for a crucifix. Just as he smiles when he finds it, we can take joy when we recognize Christ’s presence beside us. And we can imitate Colin by having the name of Jesus on our lips and in our hearts every day, calling on him in love and in all of our needs and those of the whole world.

Hopefully Colin will continue to take these steps as he grows older. Hopefully, Michael, his other brothers and Cindy and I will all do so, too, together as we share the family life to which God has called us.

If all of us in Catholic families do this, then, with the help of God’s grace, we’ll further the renewal of marriage and family life according to God’s design in our society. †

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