Husband & Wife Articles


 

Presenting Our Children

Find ways each day to offer them to God

By Darcie Nielsen

On this Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple, we are reminded that as parents our children belong to the Lord. It’s not easy. Having children is like having our hearts outside of our bodies. We want to keep them close, love them, protect them, teach them. Yet as they get older, we realize they must follow their own path. God’s plan for them might be different than ours.

We also see the darkness of the world around us, yet our children are growing up in it. We wonder what their future will be like. Will they have to suffer?

Thank God for Mother Mary and St. Joseph! On this feast of the Presentation of Jesus, Simeon prophesies to Mary, “… and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:35). St. Joseph is strong and silent, caring for Mary and Jesus and helping them to fulfill their duties before God.

As fathers and mothers, we are united to Mary’s pierced heart and we are humbled that we cannot protect our children from everything, just as she couldn’t protect her Son from the cross. Our hearts ache when we see them suffer, even if it’s just a bleeding lip or the pain of molars coming in! We take part in the sufferings and sorrows of our children, just as we do in their joys and blessings. It’s important to remember that Mother Mary suffered for her Son also, and united that suffering to his own for the salvation of the world. We are blessed to have a Mother who loves us so much and knows how much we love our children. We are blessed, also, to have Joseph as the Guardian of the Redeemer and Protector of the Church – and our protector.

The Presentation may seem a distant event to us today, yet we are called to follow the example of Mary and Joseph. How can we daily present our children to the Lord? First and foremost, with our prayers. My husband and I have formed the habit of blessing our daughter with holy water each morning and praying for her. I’ll be honest, I’m already praying for peaceful teenage years and a blessed mother-daughter relationship! We can also make sacrifices for our children. The example of St. Monica stands out, but we also have two new saints to intercede for us – St. Zelie and St. Louis Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux. They opened their hearts and their home to many children. Zelie died young and Louis suffered illness in his later years.

As parents, there are many natural sacrifices – giving up sleep, space, and time – which we can offer to God. But we can always do a little more. Maybe sacrificing that extra cup of coffee or treat, or 15 minutes looking at Facebook. My husband fasts two days a week for our family, along with other intentions. I was taught by a dear friend that whenever my baby cries in the night, before my feet hit the floor, to ask God that she never leave the Church. That is our ultimate responsibility as parents, to teach our children to know and love God. We present them to God every time we teach them the faith, bring them to Holy Mass, say grace before a meal, show them how to love and be merciful. These are a few of the many opportunities each day, and God rejoices and blesses all our efforts.

Lastly, as parents, we are to be open to God’s will in our children’s lives. Maybe God will call them to religious life, to be a missionary, to a life of hardship and sacrifice. Are we prepared to say yes to God, even if it means we might be at the foot of the cross with Mary? In all these ways, we present our children to the Lord. Devotion to the Holy Family can help make our ordinary families extraordinary. Just as Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to God, they also present us and our prayers to God.

My mother always said to my brother and me, “You are on loan to us from God, but you’re ultimately his!” Being a parent now myself, I understand this more fully. Our children are blessings and gifts from God, and while we’re their earthly parents, God is still their heavenly Father. Our job is to prepare them to meet him as faithful sons and daughters.

Darcie Nielsen and her husband, Christian, live in Boston with their 18-month-old daughter. Darcie blogs at mysoulproclaims.org.