Filipinos for Life’s December Blogging Event, What Child is This? Bearing Children as the World’s Salvation
A friend once said to me that nothing makes us become like God more than our ability to mold our children’s lives and shape their future. That was twenty years ago, still sometime before I would actually get married and I brushed it off then, by merely giving a perfunctory nod of agreement. Now, five children and twenty years later, I see those words now as a snippet of wisdom.
Raising my children with the eyes of faith, I have come to realize that this grace given to us comes with an even greater responsibility. I realize more and more that it is not enough to merely raise children who go through the motions of practicing their Catholic faith no matter how sincere or well-intentioned they may be. The task must be to nurture them to live their faith in a way that will engage and impact the growing faithlessness in the world.
Raise men and women of character and virtue, having more children than what is convenient
The world tells us that we should always seek our comfort which is why everything in the last fifty years has been geared toward attaining these. Families have gotten smaller because many parents see raising children as a strain to a convenient lifestyle. The people who should be able to afford to raise bigger families, ironically, are also the first ones to limit that number for economic reasons. Consequent to this, home builders, automotive manufacturers and family-oriented retailers have downsized their products to cater to a globally diminishing family size.
There is nothing that builds character and virtue more than inconvenience and challenges. Every sensible parent (even the one’s who have fallen into this downsizing trap) will agree that over-indulgent parenting is dangerous and yet, that is the side-effect limiting the number of children for purely economic reasons will bring; Children who see themselves as the center of the world. It also shows a lack of faith since it tells God that it is WE who are in control of our future. I have often pondered why many priests and religious seem to come from large families. It is probably because in large families, children tend to look outside of themselves more than those raised in small ones.
Raise witnesses to the faith and not just spectators
I don’t mean to necessarily raise children to anticipate being fed to the beasts or tortured to renounce their faith, that in itself is uncommon now (with the exception of Muslim-controlled Africa and some communist states). The new martyrdom for the faith comes packaged in the form of pernicious ideas and a distorted form of social acceptance. The struggle to resist these, i.e., hedonism, narcissism, self-absorption and lukewarmness, is itself a heroic act and can be taught to children only by example. As parents we must be able to impart to our children to live with Christian joy and cheerfulness amidst these ideas. We must equip them to engage and correct these notions wherever and whenever they encounter them regardless of how unpopular they may get.
Instill a love for their faith without falling into self-righteousness
In a secularized society, the love of faith and the witnessing that comes with this does not necessarily mean that children need to feel that they are merely a remnant of the “true” faith (a quagmire that many Traditionalist ideologues fall into). Christ never promised that the struggles we have will bring about total success in this world nor did He imply that we will be sweepingly defeated. As Blessed Teresa of Calcutta said, “we are not here to be successful, but to be faithful”. Herein lies what love of Christ and therefor, love of the faith is, a recognition that Christ is the one who will garner success for us for as long as we pin our hope and witness to Him. That is the hope that we must instill in our children! 1 Peter 3:15, “be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you…”. This is faith, this is witnessing.
Jesus came as a child and with this, started and completed the salvation of the world. Every child we raise can and should become a witness to this. They must go against the grain of secular culture and change the world for Christ.