Of the hundreds, maybe thousands of photos that I have snapped since my children were born, this image stands out from among them all as one of my absolute favorites. It was not staged; it was the capturing of a sweet and sincere gesture of pure love between our tiny child and her Blessed Mother in Heaven. This moment was a precious gift to us to observe the closeness and intimacy of our children with God and the awe and wonder they possess for things eternal. It is an intimacy, awe, and wonder that we, as adults, often find ourselves lacking as we become jaded by the hard knocks and difficulties of life. We are not called the Church Militant during our pilgrimage here on earth for nothing! Through the hardships and battles of everyday Christian life, how often we lose that childlike amazement and innocent love for Our Lord and our Mother Mary.
As our daughters are in the midst of their teenage years, there have been doubts, confusion, and even rebellion at times, as they try to navigate the tumultuous times of middle school and high school. As parents, we continue to try and practice and instill faith and virtue at home, hoping that the seed falls on rich soil and produces abundantly as our children grow and mature. We continue to water the soil with prayer and the Sacraments, asking the Holy Spirit to send them wisdom to make good decisions and to live in accordance with God’s Will for their lives.
In addition to our efforts as parents, we are blessed with faithful and loving family and friends to support us in this endeavor of raising children. The love that our children’s grandparents, aunts, and extended family have shown during their formative years has helped to shape them into the kind and caring young ladies they are becoming. So many teachers, administrators, and friends have contributed to their instruction and well-being and have helped to guide them through their school years. We pray that God will continue to surround our children with Christian friends and mentors as they transition into the college years and adulthood.
I sent this photo to my daughter, who is now 16, today, hoping that it would inspire her to ponder and revisit her devotion to Our Lady and love for her Son which was so evident in the image. My wish is for her to persevere in childlike faith and continue to offer simple gestures of love for her heavenly Mother as she did long ago, and to maintain that sweet, innocent spirit of trust in her and Jesus, even as she matures into a young adult. I also sent her and my other two daughters a simple but profound excerpt from George Macdonald’s “The Princess and the Goblin” which I hope will convey to them the exquisite and incomprehensible value and beauty they possess:
In a world that so often tears down and belittles the spirits of our young girls, and boys as well, these words are a precious reminder of Whose we are and our dignity before Him. We pray for our children, the future of the Church, that they will know their value in God’s eyes and continue to experience the love of God as they grow into Christian adults.