Catholic Activity: Offering it Up
Teach your child to unite his sufferings to Christ's Passion and Death.
There is suffering, too, in the lives of children, and it is eloquent prayer. Mere stoicism has no part in the training of a Christian. Too often is it the death knell to humility. But suffering embraced and offered to the suffering Christ, even with howls and tears, is a mighty weapon.
The road to Calvary was one long, unending bruise, and it helps a child to remember when he is hurt that Jesus was hurt like this, and much more, and this pain in a mysterious way can be poured on His wounds and will help make up for the pain He had to bear. Every mother in the world kisses the bumps and bruises of her young to "make them well." We can give them something much more tangible to do with their hurts than merely bring them to be kissed. We can comfort and calm and then direct them in the use of the pain, and it is surprising how willingly they will learn the lesson of pain and its value.
"Offer it up, dear, give it to Jesus to help comfort Him for the pain of the nails in His poor hands and feet." Faced as he is with a lifetime of recurring suffering (in one way or another), we give a child the only wholesome weapon to be used when we teach him to take his own pain in his own two hands and apply it freely, as he does work and play and prayer, to the comforting of Christ and His work in His Church.
Many times parents will turn to scolding the "naughty chair" or the "bad table" in an effort to ease the pain and insult of a child who comes to grief through his own carelessness. In the process, they feed little desires for vengeance, give him no recourse but senseless, continuing rebellion against anything and everything that crosses him. One time a man who lives in our town was working on his car with no success, growing more and more angry because the cursed (and I do mean cursed) car would not start. In a rage, finally, he threw his wrench at it, broke a part, and instead of a tricky repair job, he had added to his woes the problem of thumbing a ride to a service station to buy a new part, thumbing a ride back, and starting from scratch to install the new part. Perhaps his explosion was only the fault of an ungovernable temper, but perhaps — who knows? — it had its beginning long ago in childhood when the only solace for a barked shin was, "Naughty chair to hurt the baby. Kick it back, sonny, kick it back."
Activity Source: We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland, Image Books, 1961