“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build…” (Psalm 127:1).
After the love of God and a holy spouse, is there any greater blessing in this life than children… and holy parents? I don’t think so. I particularly enjoy this passage from Proverbs, especially as I am a grandfather twice over!
“Children’s children are the crown of the elderly, and the glory of children is their parentage” (Proverbs 17:6).
Grandchildren are one of the great blessings we can look forward to as we grow older. I have two of the best ever… truly. (If you think yours are better, tell me about them below.) My oldest just turned 5-years-old and my youngest is 16-months. They are brothers and they are already best friends. They make me laugh… they make me feel young again. They also have taught me a great deal about their parents.
This passage from Ephesians speaks of the co-responsibilities of parents and children.
“Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother.’ This is the first commandment with a promise, ‘that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
Raising children is not easy, especially when parents do not reflect the love of God in the home and in their relationships with others. Children observe their parents and learn. So we need to be sure that we are okay with what we are teaching our children… indeed, that we even know what we teach our children.
We have no guarantee that our children will turn out to be adults who embrace and follow the higher virtues of integrity, compassion, kindness and honor. We have no guarantee that they will cherish the virtues of faith, hope and charity. But, we can be certain that they have the best opportunity to grow in the Lord when teach them well how to live in Christ… when we reflect God’s justice and mercy in how we treat them… when they see the love and forgiveness of God lived out in the home. Unless we build on what the Lord establishes, our efforts will be in vain. “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build…” (Psalm 127:1).
The older I get, the more readily I can see the love of God passed on from parent to child. It is a beautiful thing.
Chris (my son) and Jenny are exceptional parents. That’s not a grandparent speaking – grandparents can often be very critical, you know – it’s a fact. There is more peace in their home than is usual, and that peace is reflected in their children’s behavior. Before you conclude I am wearing rose-colored glasses, let me assure you their children are normal and act as many, many children do. They can act up, they can be contrary, they can be fussy and they can test the limits. But, there is a goodness there that goes beyond what I normally see in children their age.
Let me give a couple of examples. Just recently, I watched my oldest grandson reveal the peace and love that nurtures him within his family.
First, neither my sister, nor my wife who was just beginning antibiotics for a serious respiratory infection, were able to be at the oldest grandson’s 5th birthday party. As the party was winding down when no one was watching, my grandson casually walked over and said, “Pop Pop, will you tell Mom Mom and Aunt Dess that I hope they feel better and how much I wished they had been here?” This wasn’t a quick comment in passing… no one put him up to it; it was a purposeful conversation from the depths of his heart. He loves his family because in his family he witnesses love.
And one other – Cathy and I recently visited their house overnight. We went to 8:30 a.m. Sunday Mass, following a very full Saturday and a long, but all too short night. The youngest grandson was home, having spent most of the Saturday overnight awake! But the oldest was with us and his dad at Mass. He was very well-behaved and reasonably attentive for his age. When it was time to exchange a sign of peace, I watched as he turned around with a most angelic smile and extended his hand to an older couple in the pew behind him. Not a big fuss… just the proper decorum and respect… and no parent watching; the older couple were properly impressed!
These are the moments at which many parents and grandparents feel gratitude and pride for their children. Many of you reading this are thinking of your own examples right now. These moments are a reflection of the faithfulness of the parents (and grandparents) to their responsibility for their children and the goodness of God from whom all goodness comes.
Yes, the gift of a child is a blessing from God and responsible parenting is how we can best honor that gift.
Into the deep…
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Into the Deep by Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is a regular feature of the The Integrated Catholic Life™ and usually appears on Sundays and occasionally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.
Deacon Mike Bickerstaff is the Editor in chief and co-founder of the The Integrated Catholic Life™. A Catholic Deacon of the Roman Rite for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Bickerstaff is assigned to St. Peter Chanel Catholic Church where he is the Director of Adult Education and Evangelization.
He is a co-founder of the successful annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference; the Chaplain of the Atlanta Chapter of the Woodstock Theological Center’s Business Conference; and Chaplains to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association and co-founder of the Marriages Are Covenants Ministry, both of which serve as models for similar parish-based ministries.
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