Today's Thought presents the way to instill God, Jesus and Church in their children's lives. Many parents don't want to take their children to church, which means that the parents won't be going either.
I will use my daughter and her husband as an example. When the first of three children were born, the infant was taken into the Sanctuary every Sunday for Mass, and thus, received a blessing by the priest when the parent was taking the Holy Eucharist. As the baby grew into a toddler, there was no way that they were going to take the child to the nursery. By this time, baby number 2 had been born, so there was a toddler and an infant in the company of the parents every Sunday at Mass.
As those two grew (they were all 18 months apart), the third child was born. As per custom, all the children were taken into the Mass and received the blessing from the priest every time.
By this time, the older two children were so used to going to Mass that they were quiet, taking a bottle or sippy cup and little snacks, they occupied themselves with their favorite toys, and through "shushing" now and again, they learned that this was to be a quiet time so as not to interrupt anyone during Mass.
Most parents, out of the convenience of not having to deal with their children possibly crying or talking aloud, take their children to the nursery. By the time their children are old enough to come into the Sanctuary for Mass, they talked aloud, whined and became unmanageable to the point that one parent would have to take the child(ren) out into the Narthex, therefore missing parts of the Mass. They would simply come back in when it was time to receive the Eucharist.
Perhaps you see where I am going with this - begin teaching them from birth the way of the Cross. My grandchildren were brought into Mass every Sunday and from the time they were born, they learned "inside voice" or to be quiet altogether. It is all they knew because it was instilled in them from the time of their birth forward.
Crying babies and children talking aloud when one is trying to pray, concentrate and allow the message of The Holy Spirit to come to them, were interrupted also. This can be vey irritating. Some will try to calm the child, or give the baby a bottle, which didn't always work. And here I am thinking to myself, "I wish they would go to the cry room before Mass begins and alleviate the need to interrupt the meditation of others at Mass." We have a "cry room" where parents of children can see the Mass through the giant glass wall and listen with the aid of speakers. Even then, the parent is missing the basic flow of the Mass, and then coming in to take the Body and Blood of Christ.
But, by instilling from birth the quietness of being in Church, was the result of how my daughter and her husband handled this lesson. Today, two of the children have been confirmed and the last is going to be confirmed this year. They have grown knowing the prayer before meals, and before bedtime. The parents always took them to bed and prayed with them.
I'll tell you a funny story. The kids were always excited when the Mass ended and they'd start, "are we going to see 'the green father'", referring to his green Vestment. One day my daughter went into the middle child's room (a boy) and he had a green towel tied around his neck like a cape. He had his tall stool in front of him and had a cup and a cookie and a washcloth laid with care on the stool. My daughter asked him what he was doing and he said "I'm pretending that I am the green Father and I'm celebrating Mass." It was all my daughter could do to not laugh.
Another time, she found the oldest (a girl) sitting in her room in her little rocking chair holding a Rosary. My daughter asked her what she was doing, and she proudly said "I'm saying a decade of the Rosary".
All are teenagers now, and if they have plans for Sunday, the oldest will drive to Church for Mass on Saturday, sometimes all by herself, and sometimes with "the brothers", a nickname she gave them early on. They have learned the principle of "Mass at least once a week, preferably on Saturday or Sunday."
I guess you can see that I'm bragging on them a bit, but my daughter and her husband have raised three very spiritual children, who will go to Mass with or without their parents, and will hopefully continue this "tradition" when they have children of their own. When we have them all over on Sunday for dinner, we all stand around the table holding hands and we say Grace before sitting to eat.
I have always known that God was "watching" all of the time, but I now resolve that there is something more. That is, God is IN each of us. We just need to learn that being within us, prayer is a Grace given to us by God. It is up to each of us to learn how to have an intimate relationship with God. He doesn't care as much for fancy repetitious prayers as much as he does hearing that which comes from your heart.
Being within all of us, God knows everything, but what joy it brings to Him when he receives your most intimate thoughts, problems, prayers of thanksgiving, etc. This is what He yearns to have from each of us - an intimate relationship between you and Him that is all yours, alone.
As I quote from The Divine Antidote,
"Fix it firmly in your mind that this presence of Me in you is not an allegory or a fantasy or a metaphor. It's not a story you listen to or something that might have happened to someone else. It has to do with you and Me. It has to do with a reality to be lived. So, live with assurance and gladness. You will find so much happiness in this and you will give Me so much joy. Greet Me in you often in your own way, in all sorts of ways. I'll love you in every one of these ways of yours.
"Run after Me in you. Never give up the chase. Seek Me as Father, Bridegroom and Savior. See Me looking at you. You know I am waiting for you. Don't be heedless of the moments...Seek fellowship with Me in your heart-center. Submit every earthly tie to me, since there is still time and since it would please me. There are always two paths, one that goes down toward selfish distractions and one that goes up to Me for Me. The choice is yours: either you or I..."
"Seek fellowship with Me in your heart-center." That's never holding back. He knows what is on your heart, but He awaits you to come to Him intimately, just you and He.
Prayer is the most Divine Grace that we have been offered by God. Anywhere, anytime, it doesn't matter. If there is something that needs to be offered up to Him in prayer, you don't have to speak aloud. It's all mental. Just talk to Him in your mind or aloud as you would an old friend, sharing your very heart and soul with Him. There is nothing better than getting a problem off your heart and giving it to Him so that you can go forward and live happily. This, because you Trust in Him, that He will take care of you as if you were his only child. What Amazing Grace!
In closing I want to impart that I have a journal in which I have allowed blank pages to be filled with the names and possibly the exact nature of the needs of others. I refer to this journal every time I pray. I am a Prayer Warrior at my Parish and I receive one, or sometimes several messages a day from the Prayer Warrior Leader with the prayer requests coming to our Church, plus I have many friends, family, and many Twitter friends who send prayer requests through the Direct Message feature so it is kept private. I LOVE TO PRAY!
So if you have made a prayer request, you came to the right person, because when I accept a prayer request, it's a given that I have promised, and they KNOW that Abbey is going to pray for them. It is my honor to pray for others, so much so that, like St. Theresa of Liseux, I sometimes fall asleep at night in the midst of my prayers. But the names are there, God knows what they need and that I am, through my intimate relationship with God, praying for all of them.
Good, mental prayer is also good for the soul. Put this into practice and work hard to the point where you really feel your intimacy with God because God LIVES IN YOU. It is so pleasing to him, and it will also make YOU feel so much better.
Lovingly in Jesus Christ,