A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Your (Young) Servant Is Listening

Posted on: January 14, 2013

On Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. As a mother, my thoughts go to my son’s baptism in July 2000, when he joined the Body of Christ at the tender age of three months.

Wearing a christening cap and gown my mother made from my grandmother’s wedding dress and embroidered with his initials, my son slept through most of the service. He stirred only when the minister anointed him with holy water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

For several years my son didn’t come to church—he didn’t want to be left in the nursery and wouldn’t sit quietly without kicking (yes, kicking) the pew ahead of us—but we talked about God and read him Bible stories. When he was in kindergarten, he started attending Sunday school. Faith in God has always been part of his life.

Fast forward to 2011, when we began attending a Catholic church. I made sure my son had and knew how to use some “standard equipment”: a Catholic edition of the Bible, a rosary and, more recently, a copy of the YOUCAT. He wanted a prayer corner in his room so, among other things, we’ve added a cross with Philippians 4:13 printed on it.

Of course one challenge is getting him to fully participate in the Mass. Sometimes he doesn’t want to stand up when he’s supposed to or seems so tired that I question how much he’s actually taking in. Sometimes he tells me he’s hungry—and being twelve years old, he means for food, and not for God’s word.

But I take comfort in the fact that he attends Mass with us each week. He knows and understands the Nicene Creed and receives the Eucharist. This gives me hope that he’ll grow up to be a practising Catholic who recognizes the importance of charity, values life, and knows that he’s a child of God. Children are often listening when we believe they’re not, and these things are spoken of time and again at Mass.

But what if our children don’t attend Mass regularly? If we bring them to church only for their baptism and First Eucharist, they’re missing out on so much:

  • seeing the crucifix and remembering that we are called to love as Jesus does;
  • being inspired by the example of the saints whose icons or statues we view;
  • learning about their spiritual gifts;
  • hearing the Word of God;
  • speaking to God in communal prayer as well as in the silence of their hearts; and
  • receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

We need to give our children and teens the opportunity to participate in the Mass and the life of the parish if we have any hope of their becoming like Samuel: men and women of faith who can hear God speak and who listen to his voice (see 1 Samuel 3).

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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