A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

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At Mass on Sunday, the priest filling in for our pastor talked about Mother’s Day and about the fact that parenthood is a lifetime job—not something we can simply walk away from.

Makes it seems pretty daunting, doesn’t it? It should. Being a parent is more than a job.

Parenthood, like marriage, is something we shouldn’t enter into lightly. No matter how old our children are, we still want to protect and care for them just as we did when they were infants and we were their whole world. But the larger their world grows, the more we realize how limited our ability to protect and care for them really is.

grad photo

My son and I after his Grade 8 graduation ceremony two years ago

I speak from experience. My son recently turned 16, and while we still play a guiding role in his life, his world is so much bigger than this house and the people in it.

We need to pray every day for guidance in being good role models for our children in our work, family, community and faith lives. For the courage to answer the hard questions they bring us and the resourcefulness to find the answers we lack. For the strength to model and instil in them values like honesty, integrity, empathy and compassion and to support them, whether or not we agree with their choices. For patience when they question our decisions and compassion when they make mistakes.

A tall order, it’s true, but one that God can fill through the Spirit.

Whether we’re married, divorced or single parents, we all need parenting resources to draw on. Instead of looking only to family and friends, parenting books or programs, and counsellors, I pray that we would also look to our heavenly Father and ask him to increase in us the spiritual gifts and the values we need to raise our children. May we remember these words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-8*:

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, 2nd Catholic Edition.)

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Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.

~ Unknown

For some of us, the high school or college years seem to have been the best time of our lives. We had fewer responsibilities and worries about family, health issues, bills, and so on. Maybe it’s more that we had dreams, hopes and plans that we knew would be realized in the future or that we liked who we were back then.

I know that I had certain educational and career goals; maybe I was also a bit quicker to forgive, less guarded, more optimistic. Not everything turned out the way I planned, and in nostalgic moments, that bothers me.

Those who, like me, can get caught up in the past could take a cue from these words of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, quoted in the “Celebrate January 2015” column in the January/February issue of Catholic Digest:

When we yield to discouragement or despair it is usually because we give too much thought to the past and to the future.

Do we focus too much on our regrets—the goals and dreams we didn’t achieve—and on the people we were rather than appreciate the ways we’ve succeeded and how much we’ve grown? Do we worry too much about whether we’ll get where we want to go?

We need to remember two things. First, whatever we may plan, God has his own plans for us—good plans—as he reminds us in Jeremiah 29:11*:

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

And second, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:31-35, worrying about the future is futile, for everything is in God’s hands and each day has cares enough of its own:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For…your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

When we find ourselves dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, may we pray that God would show us his will for us today, guide us in his plans for our tomorrows, and care for us as our Father always.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Here’s a wonderful example of kindness in action!

8 Kids And A Business

493px-Homeless_(8329924557) On a bitterly cold winter night just before Christmas, I participated in something I have never done before. I joined a group of volunteers from Feed The Need in Toronto and handed out socks, warm clothes and food to some of the homeless people in the downtown core. The experience took me out of my middle-class comfort and forced me to look at homelessness as something other than a distant problem of relatively few unfortunate people.

After sorting and packing the pile of donations, we split up into small groups and headed out into the streets. Carrying a bag full of socks, winter hats and sweaters, I followed the lead of my son who is one of the founders of Feed the Need and who lectures on the issue of homelessness at Ryerson University in Toronto. He took us to areas where homeless people frequent – in parks, street corners…

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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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