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Catholic Culture Resources

Catholic Activity: Teaching Sanctifying Grace



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Teach children about the indwelling of the Holy Trinity, that they may often turn in prayer to God in their souls.


Now, back to Genesis and the story of Creation (which includes so much more of the catechism than we ever dreamed). Having arched the centuries from God's knowledge of our phoebe, so alive in her nest today, and her many-times-removed grandmother that day of the creation of birds, they can see quite easily that the creation of Adam and Eve has a special meaning in relation to themselves. When you read, "Let Us make man to Our image and likeness . . ." there they are. And when you come to the place where God tells Adam that the whole earth and all that is in it is his to enjoy and rule over, their cup is full, and little girls and little boys can stand very still and look around them at the world and say in utter truth and simplicity: "He made the world for me."

But growing up is not always a happy thing. It is often very thorny for a child because he cannot possibly understand the vast human weaknesses that underlie the behavior of the adults around him, and as a result he is easily hurt by the very people who love him most. Unlike God's love, ours blows hot and cold, subject to all the worries and pressures of family affairs. It is easy to imagine the damage done to such little ones when the mother or father they love brushes them aside in the heat of domestic high tension. Without an adequate knowledge of God's love, the bottom drops out of everything. A merely vague indication that He is somewhere about and loves them is small comfort when they are really hurt and heartsick.

I learned this in a way I shall never forget. After a nasty display of temper, prompted by something I can't even remember now, I found Monica, then six, watching me with concern. When I asked her what she was thinking, she said, somewhat timidly: "You said I must not be naughty if I want to be a saint, so I was asking God to help you not be cross, so you can be a saint."

That I had trampled all over her with my peevishness was a matter of deep shame, but above that there was profound gratitude that, driven into solitude, she shared her solitude with God. How terrible, the loneliness of a child without God at such a time. There are people in mental hospitals today because they never learned to share solitude and loneliness with God when they were children.

Thus a child's faith in God must be sharply drawn. It must be so concrete that he can all but put out his hands and touch it. And the secret of its reality is the indwelling of the Holy Trinity.

"God loves you so, dear, that it was not enough for Him to send you down to earth and then stand far away in Heaven and watch you. He cannot bear to be parted from you. So when you were baptized, at that very moment Heaven opened and, faster than the wind, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost came rushing down to make their home in your soul. No one can ever make them leave but you. Only if you should commit a serious sin would they have to go. You must stop many times during the day and think about them, turn to them in your very own soul and tell them you love them, ask them to help you love them more."

This is what spiritual directors recommend to their penitents when they say: "Acknowledge daily the indwelling of the Holy Trinity." One does not have to wait until he is grown to begin — not if he is taught when he is little. Then God does not have to wait years, in silence and longing, for the invitation to move and kindle the love, draw His creature inward to life in Him. "Abide in Me and I in you."

Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961