May 26, 2017

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Christ offers parents peace in the midst of chaotic family life

Sean GallagherI don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that living in a home with growing children is far from peaceful.

There are blessings in such a life, to be sure. In fact, the gift of life that God has given to us in our children far outshines any material blessing to be found in this life.

But given the around-the-clock demands of growing children, it’s reasonable to conclude that sharing life with them is not peaceful—at least as the world understands peace.

Peace for the individual person in this life is often conceived as having no demands made on one’s time, having all of one’s material needs met and even having the resources to fulfill our desires. That’s the peace that we all desire from a purely human perspective apart from the life of grace poured into our hearts at baptism.

That certainly isn’t life with growing children. Believe me, my wife Cindy and I know this from our life with five sons, ages 15 down to 3.

Just take a typical school day for our four boys who are students in grades nine down to second grade. I won’t even go into the particular demands of our 3-year‑old.

We wake them early in the morning to get them ready for school, prepare their breakfast, get them out the door, do laundry, look after all the various chores to keep the house in which they live in one piece, earn a living to provide for all of their material needs, welcome them home, help them with their homework, prepare and serve supper, get them ready for bed and then, before we go to bed ourselves, make their lunches for the next day.

(Many of these tasks, I must say, are accomplished by my devoted wife.)

Through all of this, we’re trying to teach them how to do many of these things on their own. Most importantly, we strive to lead them to become the good and holy young men that God has called them to be as we seek with the help of God’s grace to do that in our own lives.

Prayer is needed to do all of this, and we do this as a family every day.

It is in prayer and our relationship with God nurtured through it that we are given a peace that the world does not know, a peace that Jesus promised to his disciples in one of the last lessons he gave to them.

In a recent daily Mass leading up to the feast of the Ascension of the Lord that the Church will celebrate this weekend, we heard these words from Jesus in the Gospel reading: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14:27).

In this world, we are often troubled and afraid, as well as frustrated, angry, resentful and a host of other difficult feelings, when the conditions for individual peace that I described are lacking in our lives to one degree or another.

We may yearn greatly for the fulfillment of these conditions. But in this life with all its limits, that will never happen. The peace the world offers is an illusion.

The peace of Christ, on the other hand, is solid and cannot be shaken the more we place our trust in him. In his peace, he calms our hearts when demands are made of us and when we struggle to meet our needs and desires.

So parents of growing children, accept the peace offered by Christ and you’ll truly find peace even in—perhaps especially in—the chaos of daily life at home. †

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