Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the ultimate gift

At the end of January we observed Catholic Schools Week, one devoted nationwide to celebrating the unique gift that is a Catholic education.  After much discernment and continued prayer, we made the decision a few years ago to enroll our bambini in a parish-based parochial school for a number of reasons, chief among them being this particular school's faithful witness to the message of Christ as evidenced by its commitment to teaching Gospel values by example and living them in love.   While the academics taught at the school are first-rate, to have the reinforcement of a community actively seeking to live in accordance with God's law as we tend to the formation of our children's souls -- always by God's grace and with his help -- is priceless.

This was not the easy choice for us, but we feel it is the right one for our family.  Our bambini are thriving at this school, and they show an ever-increasing love for the Lord and consideration of other people, which we understand are the Lord's two greatest commandments.  We hope and pray this trend continues as the bambini grow to maturity, but maybe someday one or more of them will, to be blunt, chuck it all either by a willful departure from the faith or by an lukewarm apathy that creeps up over time.   There are plenty of stories of such alumni.

The pastor emeritus of the parish school often still presides at school Mass.  More than once I have heard him speak in reference to the gift that the students are receiving in the form of their Catholic education.  He always goes on to stress the importance of the students taking ownership of the gift they are being given and making it their own, carrying it with them, nurturing the seeds of faith their parents, pastors, and educators are working to plant every day, and guarding against the temptation toward laziness in the all-important matter of faith.

We can go to great lengths in the name of passing the faith on to our children, including providing access to a Catholic education for them (whether that's at a Catholic school, a  public school supplemented by parish-based faith formation classes, or home school), being active in a faith community, and living each day visibly seeking the Lord's will, all of which we know can heavily influence how the bambini filter all the messages they hear and apply them to their own lives. None of it will guarantee, however, that our bambini will ultimately become men and women of faith themselves.  That gift comes from God himself, and has to be sought, claimed, and lived by each person.

I pray the Lord will fan into flame the sparks of desire within our bambini and all God's children to know, love, and serve him in this life so as to be with him in the next.

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