So 2020 ended, to the relief of perhaps everyone on the planet. We’re always grateful when a difficult time ends, but sometimes with trepidation, that “Be careful what you wish for!” We’re praying for a better 2021, for sure! As a parent, I try always to provide a rosy future for my children – they have enough stress trying to figure out who they are and what future they will have. I believe in God, our LOVING Father and Creator. 365 times in the Bible God said “Be not afraid!” However, trying to live those three words to the depth of my soul, having authentic and full faith and hope – Trust! in that loving Father - it is a constant struggle, yet one worth every effort to pursue. If I believe in Him, then regardless of this life, all will work to the better and we’ll always be accompanied in this life by heaven’s agents. And knowing He is a loving and merciful God gives me hope that my failure in faith will be understood and forgiven – so long as I ask pardon for my fears that spring from lack of trust.
But as a Mom who has walked and cried, with and for her children through some pretty tough times and dark days, it can be hard to “not be afraid” of likely suffering. Many fear the likely change of power in our country, fearing an absolute rejection and persecution of the morals they believe built this country, and saved souls from eternal hell. Others fear violent opposition to the likely new powers in Washington, fearing rejection of needed improvements in areas of social justice. Most people are seriously concerned for our country, regardless of the elected leader.
This is all over the news and social media. Every child with a phone or similar device is flooded with these thoughts and ideas. Protecting our children from others’ influence is one of the greatest – and hardest – protective acts for parents today. Especially because in today’s world they are so in need of faith in something True and the hope that brings There might be bright or difficult days ahead – our job is to keep them seeking their path while improving it for everyone as they travel. Today’s sensationalism-driven media undermines the idea that small acts of kindness change the world for at least one person more than one worldwide day of Christmas presents.
So it is our responsibility to help them find hope to want to give. We’re not to seek our own joy in the moment, rather bringing joy to God. Time with family or friends, enjoying a movie or book, listening to the birds sing, these all bring Him joy. Even a little video game time can have benefits. But the greatest, lasting rewards come through acting for a greater good. Living for a purpose outside of ourselves – and that never ends - is what actually fulfills our deepest longings. When we give all of our time and efforts helping our children pursue their activities and expect nothing from them that benefits the family, they learn that they are to be spoiled – that their pursuits are the penultimate reason for their lives. And when those pursuits have to end because of age, injury, or needing to take on new responsibilities, they lose their purpose. They also are deprived of a sense of value and the joy of “meaningful” giving. We need to frame what they do in relation to the reality that they have a greater purpose – being in relationship with God. Becoming the best athlete for a scholarship can be a great short-term goal – because it is temporary and it supports larger goals – affording an education for career goals and becoming the person we were meant to be to fulfill God’s Plan for us.
Why? Because it is the unchanging Truth that our purpose for existence is to have a relationship with God a close, personal, pure, active, and intimate relationship with Him. No event in life can take God from us – in some times and places we lose some ways of practicing the faith, but not the relationship. Phases of life don’t end the relationship, sufferings and triumphs don’t end it either – at least not from God’s side. And that reality gives them a certain hope for the future.
Hug your children tight and remind them of how important they are to God and how blessed we are to be loved by One so powerful and caring. Remind them of this life’s temporary-ness and the incredible future awaiting them after they live life to God’s fullest intention here.
-- Linda Bader, Coordinator of Religious Education
P.S. Did you know... St. Cecilia is revered in our Church as a saint and martyr, even though little is known of her story, having died early in our Church's history. How can this be? Tradition and her body's exhumation revealed that her body was incorrupt - it had not decayed and disintegrated as science would state it must. How can this be?