From How to Raise Good Catholic Children by Mary Reed Newland

A little boy of four told me, in great excitement, “You know what? God didn’t make me like you make a house. You know how He made me? He just thinked, and there I was. Like this . . .”

And he stood very still and blinked his eyes once, the best way he knew to express in physical terms how God made him.

Just to think, and make a little boy. What could be more wonderful?

For a child to learn that he is loved and wanted is pure delight, but to root it deep in his soul takes care and practice, and we must teach him to delight in it often.

“God made you, dear, ages before He put you on this earth. You were in the mind of God so long ago that even Mother cannot tell you when it was. Always He knew you, always He wanted you, and because He knows all things, He knew when was the perfect time for you to come so you could do what He has planned for you.”

It’s easy to take these beginnings for granted, but if we would stop to consider them as acts of great supernatural significance, we would learn much faster to appreciate the vast potential waiting to be developed in the souls of the smallest children.

Children believe with simplicity because, along with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit at Baptism, they possess the gift of wisdom, so different from the book-learning we think synonymous with wisdom.

Father Walter Farrell, in his Companion to the Summa, says that to question the simplicity of God’s omnipotence, His ability to create a man or a universe out of nothing, is as ridiculous as to hold that a man may not move through a fog without punching it with his fist.

This child’s acceptance of the most staggering acts of creation is precisely the acceptance that Christ said will qualify us for Heaven.

Understanding the meaning of grace, and faith, and revelation, and their supernatural effects in the uncluttered souls of children, it is utter absurdity to hold that “in all fairness,” a child should be left untaught until he is old enough to decide what to believe for himself.

It’s not only an absurdity, but a consummate mockery of the Holy Spirit. Still, to be honest, one must admit that the word God is really only a word, so far, and what children love is not the word, but the love.

I suppose one could substitute any word for the word God and they would love being loved this way just as much. So we must make Someone, not just a something, of God. And quite without realizing it, we have arrived at the beginning of catechism.

It’s a bit of a jolt to start thinking in terms of catechism so long before one absolutely must. Poor catechism, maligned and mossy with dreary associations.

But if we apply ourselves seriously to teaching our children the spiritual life, one of the greatest challenges is the dare to turn catechism into the happiest of all their studies. It should be. It could be.

Perhaps the reason it hasn’t been so far is that we mistake it for an end, not a means. It is as though, reading the recipe for a cake on a printed page, we should decide that it’s all very dull and never bother putting it together and making the cake.

There’s a great difference between reading the directions and eating the cake. The bone-dry definitions in the catechism are as essential as the recipe for the cake, but if we put them together with imagination and enthusiasm, and add love and experience, then set them afire with the teaching of Christ, His stories, His life, the Old Testament as well as the New, and the lives of the saints, we can make the study of catechism a tremendous adventure.

“It is amazing how, with time, the soul comes to dominate the body. Selfish people get the hard, selfish look. Generous people grow more physically attractive each day. People with the peace of God’s friendship develop expressions that instantly attract and constantly charm. A mouth that speaks kindly becomes a beautiful mouth. Hands that serve generously become characterful hands. Eyes that look out for affection on mankind are eyes that radiate an inner beauty not difficult to find.” -Fr. Daniel A. Lord

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they, and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


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