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Presenting Our Children to God

Post Date: January 28, 2022
Author: Laura Stephens

When God bestows the amazing gift of a child to a couple, there is no instruction manual that parents can read. No written set of instructions to prepare for every situation, celebration, concern, discussion, or moment of panic that will occur. If there were such a book, no parent would have time to read and comprehend it as they would be too busy parenting. So, what is a parent to do?

Look to Scripture. You will see many clear instructions on how to raise children. There are not enough words (or space) in this blog to cover the parental instructions that God’s Word teaches us. However, we will look to one beautiful story of Jesus for some guidance.

To follow the Jewish custom, when Jesus was 40 days old, the Holy Family went to the Temple to present Jesus to the priest and for the custom of purifying a mother after giving birth. Read Luke 2:22-40 to be reminded of the full story. We celebrate annually the Feast of the Presentation on February 2nd.

In this story, the Holy Family teaches us three essential pointers for parenting:

LOVE

It was for love of God that the Holy Family took the journey to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfill this law of Moses. “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.” (Luke 2:23) In this ritual, so faithfully accomplished, Mary and St. Joseph were giving back to God the Father the gift of Jesus. They knew that they were not alone in this important job of parenting. God leads parents through every step because of His eternal love for every soul. Mary and St. Joseph, in their dedicated love and faithfulness, ensured that Jesus “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:40) They lived in such a way that God was always first in their lives and in the raising of Jesus. Honoring God’s love was the ultimate way they parented and so we can follow their same example — put God and love for Him first.

PRAY

Upon arriving at the Temple, Simeon blessed Jesus and spoke to Mary of the sword that would pierce her heart. The prayers of Mary and St. Joseph were continual for God’s guidance. Upon hearing the prophecies acknowledged by Simeon as well as of Anna, the prophetess, I can only imagine how much more fervently they prayed. They knew that as parent their job would not be easy. It would involve pain, difficulties, and misunderstanding despite their profound holiness. Every parent must pray for guidance, peace, and the ability to follow God’s will for their child. The more we pray the more God will guide us, and we will be able to discern His will. We cannot just pray for ourselves as it is equally imperative that we pray for our children. Pray that they will know God’s love and that they will follow God’s plan for their lives. Pray for their future vocations. It is never too early to start praying for them whether they will ultimately get married, have a religious vocation, or to live a single life. Afterall, all that we hope to accomplish with them throughout their years at home is ultimately to launch them into being the adult that God intends them to be. Pray together regularly as a family and watch that our lives center more around God than the pull of other demands. May our hearts always be attuned to God for He knows well the plans He has for us and for our children.

PARTICIPATE

Families must be led by the parents to live out the faith and be active in our Church community. Mary and St. Joseph had more than enough holiness and union with the Father, so they didn’t really “have to” fulfill the ritual. It was in obedience to God and to honor the Jewish ritual that they took Jesus to church in the Jewish Temple. They loved God and His law and looked with honor on being a part of their religious community. Mary and St. Joseph remind us that families need the Church and the Church needs families. No matter how much or how little you might teach your children about God at home, they need to experience the life of the Church. We all need to realize that God gathers His family together for celebration, teaching, sharing, and encouragement. Generations are turning more and more away from living out their faith and some are altogether avoiding religious practices. But even Jesus Himself honored the religious practices of His time; and, at His appointed time, He so beautifully created the religious faith and rituals that are still maintained to this day in the Catholic Church. Our children must know well the inside of God’s house and the ministry that we are a part of as the family of God.

God does not give us an instruction manual, but He is beside us every step of the way as we train up our children. May we present our children back to God through the witness of our love, perseverance of prayer, and the active participation in our beloved Church.

Most Holy Family, lead our family to holiness!

Author: Laura Stephens, FF Sacrament Preparation Catechist

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