Husband & Wife Articles


Parents Need Parenting

My infant son needs me, and I need the Blessed Mother

By Matthew Petesch

Although my son is only 3 months old, my wife, Mary, and I have already begun to introduce him to prayer. Every morning we place him before the Divine Mercy image that hangs on our living room wall. We then take his hand and trace the sign of the cross over him while saying, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Although my son has no idea what is going on, we know that as he grows, he will begin to understand what we are doing and, more importantly, who Jesus is. By engaging in this routine, we hope that our son will learn how to pray at an early age.

This process of praying with my son reminds me of my own need for parental instruction in the spiritual life. My wife and I hold our son’s hand when we trace the sign of the cross because he can’t perform this action on his own. In a similar way, I need the Virgin Mary, my Mother, to hold my hand as I walk with the Lord. With the Solemnity of the Assumption just celebrated Aug. 15, I’m reminded of Mary’s maternal care for me. She guides me through life’s challenges and leads me closer to Christ through her words and example.

“May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

These words of total trust remind me of my need to conform my life to Christ. Mary humbly accepts the invitation to become the Mother of God. She is able to say yes to this incredible gift, because, as St. Augustine says, she conceived Jesus in her heart before she did in her womb. Mary was attentive to the voice of the Lord and allowed the Word to take root in her heart.

In the same way, we are called to bear Christ in our very person. When we receive the Eucharist, we are receiving the same Jesus who was born of the Virgin Mary. I often ask the Blessed Mother before I receive the Eucharist to help me say yes to Jesus like she did at the Annunciation. By asking for her intercession, she teaches me how to follow the Lord with an undivided heart.

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).

After Mary gave birth to Jesus, we are told that she “pondered all of these things in her heart.” Mary reflected on the gift that God had given her, mainly the person of Jesus. She adored her creator who made his home in her womb.

God also dwells in all of those who are baptized and in a state of grace. In the depths of our soul we will find the living God dwelling in us. Like the Blessed Mother, we should ponder the gifts God has given us, and no gift is more precious than the gift of God himself. Through our Baptism, God has made a home in us. We should ask Mary to help us contemplate the mystery of this gift.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47).

With these words, Mary begins her hymn of praise, the Magnificat. Her words remind me to rejoice in the Lord at all times and to be thankful even in the midst of suffering. This is difficult. It requires constant attention and effort on my part. For that reason, I recite the Magnificat every.

Even though I’m a father, I still need help, especially in the spiritual life. Like my son, I need someone to guide me. The Virgin Mary takes my hand and leads me to Jesus, just as my wife and I assist our son in his devotions.

Matthew Petesch lives with his wife, Mary, and their 3-month-old son in Helena, Montana.