November 25, 2016

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Parents and children can lead each other closer to God

Sean GallagherMy 3-year-old son Colin often knows what he wants. And when he isn’t yet able to express his desires clearly through his ever-growing vocabulary, he’ll take my wife, Cindy, or I by the hand and lead us to what he wants us to do for him.

Such incidents are cute and funny. But one happened recently that was touching and even profound.

We were at Mass and when it came time to receive Communion, Colin did something unusual. He mostly likes Cindy to carry him as she’s walking forward in the Communion procession line.

That day, though, he held my hand and walked next to me as I approached the sanctuary of the church to receive. And as the moment arrived, he kept his attention on the priest as he gave Communion to one worshipper after another.

It was like he was drawing me closer to the Lord in his wonderful, almost God-like innocence.

As I came close to the great gift of himself that Christ gives to me and all the faithful in the Eucharist, Colin was showing me both the humility that is proper for that moment and the attention on it alone that should hold our hearts and minds in that sacramental encounter with the Lord.

Looking back gratefully on the blessed time with Colin, I see how it was emblematic of how God calls parents and children to mutually lead each other closer to himself.

When Colin and his brothers were baptized as infants, my wife, Cindy, and I took on the responsibility of forming them in the faith so that, as they grow, like Jesus did as a child, “in wisdom and age and favor before God and man,” they may embrace fully as their own that faith given to them at the start of their lives (Lk 2:52).

This obligation that we freely took on is a mighty one, one which no parent can fulfill on his or her own or even together if they relied on their human gifts alone. It requires the help of God’s grace, which is available to us at every moment of every day and in a special way through our marriage in the Lord.

Parents need such divine help because, of course, their own journey of faith to the Lord is far from complete. And in the mysterious interweaving of God’s providence, he leads parents closer to him through their children just as they strive with his help to bring them to him as well.

St. Paul said that marriage was a “great mystery” that embodied the mystical marriage between Christ the bridegroom and his bride, the Church (Eph 5:32). Well, there is a holy mystery, too, in the relationship formed by God between parents and their children.

So often, they can get caught up in the busyness of their daily lives with all of its duties and obligations. But parents and children would do well to step back regularly from the many little things they place such great value on in their lives, and catch a glimpse of the powerful ways that God is working in their relationships to shower his love and mercy upon them.

The more children and parents can recognize God drawing them closer to him through each other, the more they can grow in their mutual love and their love of God.

In this upcoming season of Advent, Catholics are called to prepare spiritually for the coming of Christ, both at the end of time and in their everyday lives.

Parents and children can be channels of grace for each other in this blessed season, walking together to Christ who yearns to come more fully into all of our lives. †

Local site Links: