July 23, 2021

Love’s Litmus / Natalie Hoefer

Grandmother’s kind act encourages granddaughter’s interest, faith

Natalie HoeferThe gift was given on no special day and for no particular reason.

It was not a large gift, either—just a simple, spiralbound notebook, the kind available at any grocery or drug store.

Rosemary Stader sat down at the kitchen table next to me, her then 10-year-old granddaughter.

“I know you like to write, so I thought I would get a little something for you to write in,” she said, sliding the new, green-covered notebook over to me.

“You have a gift for writing,” she added. “That’s something that comes from God. So write what’s in your heart, but remember that your heart and your gifts come from God.”

I thanked her and immediately took the notebook and a pen outside. I sat against a tree, crossed my legs and opened the notebook, excited to see that first vacant white page, waiting to be filled with words of my own crafting.

But words had already been scrawled upon that first page, right in the middle!

It was a message from my grandma:

“God made Natalie to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him, so that she may be happy forever with Him in Heaven,” it read.

Later I would learn those words had come from the Baltimore Catechism, which by that time was no longer taught in religious education in Catholic schools.

I filled that notebook from cover to cover. I went on to fill many more notebooks with journal entries, reflections, poems, stories and conversations with God.

“Love is kind,” says Paul in 1 Cor 13:4. My grandma’s kind act encouraged not only my love for writing, but also sealed for me who was the source of that love and for whom I should use that literal love.

Forty-some years later, I feel so blessed to use God’s gift of writing in service of his Church by writing for The Criterion.

I still have that notebook and all that was in my 10-year-old’s heart written within its pages.

And my heart still carries that ever-important message from my grandma, who died in 2014. I still call upon it today as a reminder of all that is important in this life: to know, love and serve God—using the gifts he gave me—so that I may live forever in his eternal loving presence.

(Send your stories of people you know who live out agape as described by St. Paul in 1 Cor 13:4-7 to Natalie Hoefer at nhoefer@archindy.org, or call 317-236-1486 or 800-932-9836, ext. 1486. Include your parish and a daytime phone number where you may be reached.)

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