Teaching children about “carrying their cross” is, for some, uncomfortable. Most parents want to shield their children from struggle – to protect them and ensure that they are always happy. In our attempt to continuously pave the way for our children, however, we may be preventing them from experiencing the value in suffering: how will they be able to express compassion and empathy when others are experiencing sadness if they have not been in a similar situation? The road to heaven, as Fr. Brent mentioned, is not easy, and Mother Angelica explains, “Sometimes my worst day – one filled with pain and suffering – in the eyes of God, is my best day if I’ve borne it cheerfully and I’ve borne it with love.”
At St. Michael’s School, we teach our students to turn to God in prayer and present their needs before Him. St. Paul says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7). Children need to know (and by know, I mean instinctively understand in every fiber of their being) that when they are sad or struggling, they can take refuge in the shadow of God’s wings.
Try as you might, you will not be able to protect them from every evil or danger. They will be tempted and they will falter. They will be sad and they will struggle. And when you can, you will be there to help, along with God, who can comfort them and lift them out of their despair. It is much easier to turn to God in times of distress when we have established a relationship with Him through frequent reception of the Sacraments. That we are able to celebrate Mass each week on Wednesdays at school is a blessing, but it should not be considered a replacement for Sunday Mass. For it is when we hear the Word of God, and receive Him in the Eucharist each week that we can face our challenges with joy and confidence.
Advent is right around the corner and is the start of the new Liturgical Year. Fr. Brent told the students last Wednesday that if they are not going to Mass on Sundays, they need to ask their parents to take them. If you are not Catholic, you are encouraged to attend your personal house of worship. Please help your children deepen their friendship with Jesus by making sure you go to Mass each weekend as a family. In doing so, you will be ensuring their protection and happiness for the rest of their lives.