One of my fears about our move to a nicer, “safer” and more bubble-like neighborhood relates to my children (and myself) adopting a sense of entitlement. Yes, I am so very, very grateful that I am not worried that my front door is going to be kicked in by intruders at 10 o’clock in the morning anymore, but there are other dangers to be concerned about here in our new city. Day after day, going to school or playing sports with young children who seem to have everything and then some, can slowly poison our thinking about what we need vs. what we want. I spoke with my spiritual director about my concerns, and he readily agreed that my concerns were valid. It seems these days I have more concerns over the safety of their souls than the safety of their physical bodies.
I am amazed at how God can hear the quiet prayer of my heart and answer my unspoken prayers. Just last week a Catholic Relief Services representative from Kenya spoke to the young people at our parish. My husband took our two oldest children, and when they came home to discuss all they had learned, my heart was filled with gratitude for the Holy Spirit teaching my children about gratitude. Even though my husband and I try to teach them gratitude here at home, at times it is much more effective for them to hear the message elsewhere. The speaker’s personal story about near starvation moved my children’s hearts with compassion and planted a seed of awareness more quickly than anything I could have shared with them. The speaker suggested that at this time and place in their lives, they could help by (1) being grateful for all that God had blessed them with, (2) do their best to avoid waste, and (3) offer their personal prayers. The next day, they reflected that they looked at their meals a bit differently and felt a different sense of gratitude, but they still felt a bit helpless and a bit guilty for all that they had. The very next day, during a morning reflection reading, Jesus spoke to us all about not feeling guilty for all that we had been blessed with, but to be thankful and to see the truth that no one deserves anything from Him. “My kingdom is not about earning blessings. And life with Me is not some sort of game in which you earn points to buy prizes. Good behavior doesn’t buy blessings.” I did, however, notice that the reflection pointed out that this was a time of plenty in our lives, and that we should enjoy this time as His gift to us. A time. Hmmm…there is no guarantee it will last forever, nor that it will be good for my soul if it does last. Only God knows.
God Alone Suffices by S.C. Biela contemplates:
“The person who wants to acknowledge his dependence on God in everything will have to agree to accept material poverty. Otherwise, this desire to be dependent on God will only be a theory. ….In addition, even if our spiritual maturity is such that we are able to be detached from rich things, a comfortable life style, and a well equipped house, who can guarantee that our children will also be detached from these things? Who can guarantee that they will not feel superior to those who are less fortunate? The pressure of the environment pertaining to material reliance is so great that if parents do not give a believable testimony from their own lives, no amount of moralistic discussions will suffice to equip their children to withstand such pressure.”
And I wonder, how attached am I to a comfortable lifestyle? Am I really detached and dependent on God for everything? What am I modeling to them? After hearing their recap of the Catholic Relief Services speaker, I thought differently about turning on my water faucet, and about leftovers in my fridge. I see how much I take these gifts for granted. "Since this detachment to prosperity does not come easily, we must attempt to stand in truth, admitting to our enslavement. Then, with humility, thank Jesus for loving us as we are and for desiring to be united with us."
“When we look at our family’s material situation, we must always take into consideration the most important goal of our lives, that is, our sanctity and the sanctity of our children. If we think seriously about holiness, then money is equivalent to garbage. Money has value only to the degree that it serves us according to God’s will.” This is such an anti-cultural message and being the Control Freak that I am, I fear that my children will not embrace the gift of faith. I fear that they will rely on themselves and live as if God did not exist. But I cannot control them – at all. The only thing I can do is seek deeper communion of life with Christ through His mother. I need to ask her to repair the damage I do with my poor examples. I can only entrust each interaction and each conversation with them to our Blessed Mama, and allow grace to be attached to carry them closer to our Lord. I beg God to love them through me, so that His Presence will permeate their souls (and mine!) and draw us unto Himself.