Friday, December 23, 2016

We should not hide them from the children

From today's Matins in the traditional latin Divine Office:

Psalm 77. Attendite, Popule

1 Hear my law, O my people; * incline your ears unto the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable; * I will declare the propositions from of old;
3 Great things which we have heard and known, * and such as our fathers have told us;
4 That we should not hide them from the children: * of the generations to come.
5 But to shew the honour of the Lord, * his mighty and wonderful works that he hath done.
6 He made a covenant with Jacob, * and gave Israel a law,
7 Which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children: * that their posterity might know it.
8 The children which were yet unborn, to the extent that when they came up, * they might shew their children the same.
9 That they might put their trust in God, and not to forget the works of God, * but to keep his commandments.
10 And not be as their forefathers, * a faithless and stubborn generation.
11 A generation that set not their heart aright, * and whose spirit clave not stedfastly unto God.

"That we should not hide them from the children...That they might put their trust in God, and not to forget the works of God, but to keep his commandments. And not be as their forefathers, a faithless and stubborn generation."

In my work as a Campus Minister at a Catholic High School I have seen the results of at least one generation's failure to hold to the above standard. The children who arrive to learn know almost nothing of the Bible, nothing of God's law, nothing of Jesus except that He loves us (which is always interpreted in the most infantile, superficial manner possible), and nothing of the Church except that Her ministers are old and Her masses, boring. The parents hid what they knew and passed on nothing, hoping others would do the work of teaching their children instead of themselves.

An entire generation has been faithless and stubborn, and they have produced like offspring.

It has been the solemn duty of all God's people since the very beginning of his covenental relationship with them to teach their children who God is, what He has done, and what our relationship is with Him. This psalm is speaking directly to us: those of us whose parent's generation failed. Here, in Psalm 77, we are being given a specific command: do not be like your parents' generation. Be faithful and teach your children to be faithful.

I thank God for my parents and my in-laws, who never hid any portion of their knowledge of God and gave us everything they knew of Him, pointing us towards Him with firm hands and gentle proddings. And not-so-gentle proddings, too! My wife and I were blessed and we should never take that for granted, and we should work with all our hearts and with great mercy to help and assist those who did not have such parents. May we and those in positions like us (of which a majority of you readers are probably included) work and serve with humility knowing that our faith was a gift of our parent -- a gift not many our age received. We should be filled with gratitude and awe, never an inflated sense of pride or superiority.

Lord, give all reading this the courage to accept the graces you offer and which we so desperately need to proclaim and teach the faith, especially to children. Amen.

Friends and Followers