Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why Use the Term "Growing"? Isn't Faith a "Gift"?

The title of this blog, "Growing Faith-Filled Kids," very directly points to the active nature of a parent's or teacher's vocation-- to "grow" faith-filled kids. However, I have heard well-meaning people say things like, "But faith is a gift from God...," or "All we can do is plant the seed..."

Though both of these statements carry some truth, there is a danger if we stop there. Growing a garden of beautiful flowers or a crop of vegetables takes much more attention than planting the seeds and waiting to see what happens. Likewise, growing faith-filled kids is more focused and long-term than simply scattering "seeds." Growing faith-filled kids is about how we till the soil of our children's minds and hearts so that they will be receptive to the grace of God's gift of faith, and how we give opportunities for that gift of faith to take root and grow in our children. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company."(142) Those well-meaning people mentioned earlier are correct in one way. God first moves in our lives, whether through a person or an experience, He invites us into a relationship with Him. What a gift! What an incredible seed! The Creator of the universe takes such a personal interest in each of us-- in our precious children, especially-- that He "moves among" us, inviting us into a relationship with Him.

The Catechism goes on:  "The adequate response to this invitation is faith . . . By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer."(142-3) "Faith-filled kids," (or adults, for that matter) are those who have learned to respond to God's invitation by submitting mind and heart to God. This is where we come in.

Since our natural tendency as human beings is to turn mind and heart away from our Creator (see Gen. 3 . . . or most of the Old Testament . . . and human history for that matter!) our children need to be taught and trained to respond to God's invitation with a willing mind and a loving heart. As any parent or teacher knows, children need much help growing in these qualities!

And so, "Growing Faith-Filled Kids"!

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the invitation to believe in you, to love you, and to remain forever in your company. Grant us the wisdom and courage we need to till the garden of our children's minds and hearts so that they will respond to your invitation with faith. Help us not to neglect the ways our participation as parents and teachers is necessary to our children's growth in faith.

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