May 25, 2018

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Take a journey of faith together as families

Sean GallagherOur 13-year-old son Raphael recently took a trip to Washington with his fellow junior high school students at Lumen Christi Catholic School in Indianapolis.

I had to get him to Indianapolis International Airport by 4:30 a.m. on the first day of his trip because his group’s flight had a 6 a.m. departure time.

Raphael learned a hard lesson about travel that day. The flight that was supposed to take off at 6 a.m. was delayed three times, and did not roll down the runway until 1:15 p.m.

As I saw Raphael off with the trip’s chaperones and his fellow students early that morning, I couldn’t help but think back to October 2006.

At that time, my wife, Cindy, and I took Raphael, then 19 months old, to her parents’ home as we prepared to travel to the Vatican for the canonization of Mother Theodore Guérin, Indiana’s first saint.

I was making the trip to report on the historic event for The Criterion, and we agreed that this also was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Cindy.

Because the trip involved a good amount of work for myself, though, we arranged for my parents to care for our oldest son Michael, then 3, and Cindy’s parents to care for Raphael during the 10-day pilgrimage.

Dropping both boys off were bittersweet moments for us, although I recall Michael couldn’t wait to have us leave because he was so anxious to start having fun at his grandparents’ house.

Cindy and I both shed tears as we pulled away from her parents’ home, watching her mother holding our baby and him looking out at us, knowing that we wouldn’t see him again for almost two weeks.

How that baby has grown in the 12 years that followed and led up to me dropping him off at the airport.

As I considered how two journeys bookended my recent memories of Raphael, I realized that everything in between has also been a journey. Indeed, it’s been a pilgrimage of faith for all of our family.

Just as Raphael experienced hardships in his trip to Washington, and Cindy and I had challenges in going to the Vatican in 2006, the journey of faith of our family—and of all families in the Church—bears resemblance to Christ’s path of suffering to Calvary.

Since we are by grace conformed to Christ in our baptism, we all share in his suffering so that we also may share in the glory of his resurrection.

I don’t think that I would exaggerate in saying that every day in the life of our family has had its fair share of trials. Some days, it seems that that they come hot and heavy.

But God marks those days here and there with glimpses of his glory as well. I saw that on my cell phone when Raphael was in Washington and his chaperones would send back photos of all the students smiling in front of various historic places in our nation’s capital.

And that glory came shining through when I saw a smiling Raphael walk off the plane that brought him and all on the trip safely back to Indianapolis a few days later.

In the brokenness of this life, we experience only bits and pieces of God’s glory. It will only be in heaven that we’ll be enveloped into the fullness of it.

The promise of that infinitely beautiful moment can help all families move forward together on their pilgrimage of faith when the hardships of the journey might weigh heavily upon us. †

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