How do I invite my Child to God?

September 1, 2020

There is a unique passage in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians where he proclaims to his brethren that God chose them from the very beginning to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. Paul goes on to proclaim that the brethren are called through the Gospel, so that they may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.[1] The unique character of this particular Pauline letter is that it sets the stage for the following verses which amounts to an invitation by St. Paul to stand firm and hold to the traditions which they were taught by either word or letter.[2]

The premise of these passages expresses an important point that from the very beginning of our creation we carry a natural inclination to give glory to God affirmed and strengthened by His Word and ultimately revealed through His Son Jesus Christ.   

The Premise of Christ’s Invitation

It is important to openly embrace the visible fact that everyone is called to enter the Kingdom of God. The nature of this Divine invitation is without limit or impediment and its effectivity is intimately bound with the persons willingness to accept Jesus Christ into his life and proclaim His Word. Keep in mind that Christ came to preach the Good News to the poor of heart[3] meaning those in need of spiritual healing, those who hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God. Jesus also calls all sinners to the Kingdom of God[4] which means a call toward an intimate and active conversion toward Jesus Christ and His Church.

The premise behind Jesus’ invitation to enter the Kingdom of God is intimately bound with the request to make a significant choice, a desire toward a conversion to Christ-give everything to Him. This means a total surrender of self to Christ.[5] And this is where the journey begins with inviting our children toward God. The following steps will outline basic course of action on how to initiate and invitation to God.

The First Step: A genuine expression of Love

The great Doctor and teacher of the Catholic Church St. Francis De Sales always preached: Cor ad cor loquitor-heart speaks to the heart. This was the premise of his kerygmatic and creedal mission to proclaim the Word the God and instruct the faithful in the teachings of the Church.   He practiced this approach on a daily basis and it served as the basis of the Salesian Methodology of Catholic education developed by St. John Bosco who quite often made the following declaration: “get them to love you and they will follow you anywhere.” An invitation to seek God must lead with a genuine heart and this means a parent’s authentic visible witness of love toward God the Father in all things. Thus, the first step in inviting your child to God is based on the virtue of love, and the parent’s willingness to openly and actively express a genuine love toward their own child. Though one may argue that this should be a fundamental interaction between parent and child, the reality is we can easily misplace the act of charity due to the nature of our own sinful disposition. Hence, an important action intimately bound with this first step is that the parent’s relationship with Christ be active and intimate in the sacramental life of the Church.

An invitation to God involves an expressed and deliberate language that reveals to the child that he is part of the Kingdom of God. This doctrinal teaching of the Church affirms the child’s identity that he is a child of God created to proclaim the “good news” revealed by His Son Jesus Christ. The identity of this invitation should be rooted in a sincere and genuine love for your child to seek God and engage in a relationship with Him. Keep in mind that a soul is won more through some form of personal witness or influence rooted in love than anything else. Our personal witness as parents should invoke a love for Jesus Christ above all things.

The Second Step: Revelation and the Response of Faith

God’s intimate love for his children as revealed through His Son Jesus Christ is directly aimed at spawning a response from us to act in the name of Christ. Hence the establishment of the Church, the visible reality of the sacramental life and the development of the teachings of the Church all coincide in an opportunity to fully embrace a life in Christ that is not found anywhere else. St. Paul strengthens this notion of our response by urging his brethren to never weary in well-doing or in other words never tire in exercising good works.[6]  And this sets the stage for the second step in the invitation process, establish an atmosphere rooted in acts of faith both in and outside of the home. These acts of the faith are bound in the sacramental life by way of active reception of the sacraments especially reconciliation (know and understand the nature of sin)  and attendance at Mass on Sunday and all Holy Days of obligation (know and understand the true presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist) and second, through an active participation in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. The Catechism (2447) explains the works of mercy as follows:

The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice in pleasing God.

Third Step: A Continuing Call to Conversion

Within the constructs of a religious education journey that involves both an active engagement in the Word of God-kerygma and a deliberate investigation in the teachings of the Church a child learns best from the visible witness of a parents acts of faith. Primary to any act of faith is the example of how to follow Jesus. This is where the seed of Christian discipleship is established in the child through the visible witness of the parent and the active engagement of faith through word and deed.

Christian examples such as the sign of the cross after every meal, prayer or blessing. Praying over your children every night before going to bed, invoking the intercession of your child’s patron saint or the patron saint of the home, consecrating your home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrating your child’s baptism, serving the poor and the establishment of a specific prayer space within the home aim to introduce a continual call to conversion to Christ and His Church. Its important to understand that the premise of an invitation of God must first be rooted in a Christian anthropology which begins with the body and its senses-the establishment of a Catholic World View. From here we aim for the heart and mind of the child toward establishing and affirming an invitation of faith that both makes sense and can be readily acted upon.

In the end, the aim for our children is Heaven and nothing else!  

 

[1] 2 Thess 2:13-14

[2] 2 Thess 2: 15

[3] Lk 4:18

[4] Mk 2:17

[5] Mt 13:44-45

[6] 2 Thess 3: 13

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