Moment by Moment Listening for the Lord

There is no more poignant a moment than to stand in church with my child standing at my side and hear, "Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return" (Welcome to Lenten Season).  The heart is both excited at the opportunity to share the love I experience in relation to our heavenly father and sobered to realize how eternally important this moment is to myself as a father and my children.  The implications for the community of today and in the future are no less important.

This view is not unique, is spoken of in Holy Scripture (Proverbs 22:6) and is known among our contemporaries.
  • "[C]hildren who reported they had a warm close relationship with their parents, were less likely to rebel against religious teachings...Parents are the most important influence...sometimes more indirect than direct..." to the child's religious socialization process (Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Peter C. Hill and Bernard Spilka. The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach, 2009: 117).
  • "A Christian world view, however, must transcend our head knowledge and permeate our souls.  Research clearly indicates that a biblical world view, morality and character become real in one's life through close relationships, one of which is our relationship with God.  Close human relationships, particularly with authority figures, are also crucial to help students see what it looks like in real life to live out integrity, a biblical world view and, most of all, love" (Todd W. Hall. Spirituality at a Crossroads. Biola Magazine, Fall 2010).
  • "A teen with adequate support network of friends, family, religious affiliations [emphasis added], peer groups or extracurricular activities may have an outlet to deal with everyday frustrations.  But many teens don't believe they have that, and feel disconnected and isolated from family and friends.  These teens are a increased risk for suicide" (Matthew K. Nock, About Teen Suicide.
  • "Don't neglect your child's spiritual development...The lessons of self-discipline, humility, community, and God are all worth any resistance you may encounter..." (Erika J. Chopich, Do Children Need Religion.
  • When we neglect tradition, we lose the powerful framework of the liturgical calendar as a means of nurturing Christian identity and hope...Children are 'overhearing', 'overseeing', and 'imitating' the faith [positive and negative behaviors of those around them] whenever they are given chances to do so...[E]ffective formation requires the engagement of the family and the congregation as an extended family of faith, creating opportunities for relationships with multiple adults who are also being formed in faith" (Karen-Marie Yust. Theology, Educational Theory, and Children's Faith Formation: Findings from the Faith Formation in Children's Ministries Project).
  • "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children in the faith, prayer, and all the virtues.  They have the duty to provide as far as possible for the physical and spiritual needs of their children" (Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2252).
As parents, our children come to know how close or how far is God from our whispers that appeal to him for guidance in "penance, reflection and fasting" as we kneel in humility, be it at church or just moments before we sleep.  It is by all that we say and do, or don't say and don't do, that their innocence is first introduced (or not introduced) to a living and merciful God.  So I am challenged with conviction that my daughters come to know the great love their God in heaven has for them by who I allow God to transform me into being.  What is more important than to submit to our creator or this role as a parent who has the task of modeling a living, growing and humble faith?  Absolutely nothing.  And the first fruit is apparent, for when my children are asked, "Who loves you more than Papa?" they reply enthusiastically with conviction, "Jesus!"

After returning to our place in the pews, among our brothers and sisters in Christ, each of us on a path listening for the Lord, I am mindful of the emotional, physical associations taking place in my daughter's tender memory and hearing.  She looks about, quietly asks questions and finds her place in our Magnificat, owning the multi-colored ribbons of blue, green, purple, red and yellow bookmarks.  She studiously attempts to read and follow, periodically brushing away my pointing finger guiding her interest, as if to say without words, "Papa, I can do this. I'm on my own."  Alternatively, my arm is around her and she snuggles close and rests, and I'm even more thoughtful for the Lord's awesome presence we feel. She will remember these moments long after I am gone and waiting for her, her sister and all we love in heaven.  These moments will replay in her memory faded, but the depth of love and conviction will be there for her, as coins of great price to redeem in any situation she will face in life. I waste not the moments to hold her close with a father's love and concern for her developing faith.

Yes, this is a sobering time, sitting here in the fellowship of our Lord's affection answering the call for "penance, reflection and fasting" and I am prayerfully thankful for the call.

Today we begin...and in the days that follow, growing closer to God, moment by moment listening for the Lord as he hears our whispers.  During this season of Lent, what is God calling you to do?  Who is God calling you to be?  Listen and become, for your children are doing the same.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).


Mysteria: Gregorian Chants

A Happy and Blessed Lent - Living in the Light of Truth
by Apostleship of Prayer

Kids' Daily Offering Prayer
by Apostleship of Prayer