A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘spiritual gifts


My grandfather continued to fix watches after he retired, and my grandmother was involved in her church choir and women’s group.

Sport and leisure programs start and wrap up at the same time as the school year, even when they’re not aimed at children and youth. Many radio stations target teens and college students as their audience, as do movie studios in releasing summer features. And the dizzying array of anti-aging products on the market speaks volumes.

Our culture revolves around the young.

But what happens when we’re not the target market anymore—when we have grandchildren, when we’re retired?

With families more spread out geographically these days, people of faith in their 60s and up may not play the same role in their extended families as in earlier generations, but God tells us their contributions matter:

The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

They are planted in the house of the LORD, they flourish in the courts of our God.

They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are ever full of sap and green,

to show that the LORD is upright….

~ Psalm 92:13-15*

When our children are grown, that may be the time to help with sacramental preparation, music ministry, or parish activities we didn’t have time for when we had young children at home. To explore our spiritual gifts at retreats and workshops we didn’t have time for in the past. To ask God how we can serve him now.

And when we organize parish activities, we need to look beyond running events for retirees and seniors in the congregation to running activities with their help. For example, we could seek out retired or long-time teachers to help with sacramental preparation or a Bible study, professional musicians to provide music for Mass or parish events, accountants to assist in managing the finances of the parish, or writers and photographers to produce content for our parish website.

I pray that we would remember we all have a role to play—whatever our age—in the Church and beyond by using our gifts to support and encourage those in our family and our faith community, to minister to those in need, and to pray for the needs of all of God’s people—in short, to glorify God and draw others to him.

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

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…

~ Ecclesiastes 3:1*

While the weather in Ottawa shows few signs of warming up and spring seems far off, my household is bracing not only for the bitter cold but also for change.

Not only is my son getting involved with our parish’s new youth group and preparing for confirmation, but he’s also trying to choose which one of several local high schools to attend in the fall.

It’s a difficult decision since our school visits so far have shown us well-maintained buildings, staff committed to seeing students thrive and succeed, and students who like their school and participate in activities and clubs. We’ve even ironed out the bus transportation issues. And so it’s coming down to opportunities for co-op programs and hands-on courses.

For those of us with children heading to high school or university who may not know what kind of career would suit their interests and abilities, it can be tempting to steer them toward what we think would be a good career and influence them to take courses to reach that goal. But to do so would be to ignore this direction from Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

I’ve heard this verse spoken of as referring to our children’s spiritual education. Yet I think it also refers to guiding our children in the path God wants them to follow, using the talents and spiritual gifts he has blessed them with.

We may dream that our children will pursue a career in medicine, for example, because we see this sector as providing stable or well-paying jobs; our children may in fact be called to a career in sales, the trades, the arts or the non-profit sector. We may wish that our children could know early and with certainty the career they’d like to pursue, but some may take longer to find their niche.

And so I pray that those of us with children preparing to begin high school or post-secondary education or training would pray for and with them that God would guide them in discovering their vocation and his plan for them (see Jeremiah 29:11).

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

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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