In response to a question asked by one of our RCIA Candidates we first asked our some of our moms to answer the question: what does it look like to thread our faith through each facet of our lives? What does it look like to parent catholic and to work as a catholic and to not allow ourselves to put other things in front of God? Now we turn to the dads to give their insight. These are their answers.
“Balance” is a funny concept. It would suggest that everything receive its appropriate focus and attention. On the surface, this seems to be an intelligent approach, but I’ve found just the opposite to be true. When I compartmentalize my life and try to accomplish all the “important” things, NOTHING gets enough time or attention, and everything I do falls short…including my being a good husband and father. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, or enough energy to do it all. Only through grace have I found that there is only ONE thing worthy of my focus…and that is God. And even with this knowledge, I fall very short.
In the too few moments when “I get my act together”, I realized that when I truly surrender all that I want to accomplish for all that God wants to accomplish through me, then (and only then) do I start to fulfill all that I’m capable of, and start becoming the “best version of myself” that Matthew Kelly so frequently talks about.
Being a “Catholic parent” is incredibly difficult in today’s culture with its moral relativism and self-indulgent focus. We, who desire to be great Catholic parents, must view our challenge as if we were a general taking his army into battle. We are in a war to preserve our children for something greater than sports, electronics, and pleasure. How do Angie and I fight such a battle? We start with the realization that teaching our kids to grow in their faith isn’t a handoff to SMOY or Bishop Fenwick. Yes, we believe that a Catholic education will improve our odds, but leaving OUR responsibility to the schools is a weak excuse for Catholic parenting, and is destined to fail. Here is another area where “compartmentalizing” our lives leads us to failure. There isn’t “God time”, and then “our time.” All time is God’s time, and our actions, our language, and what level of integrity we role model to our children will ultimately determine whether we “Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Catholic parenting is a 24/7/365 job, and arguably the most difficult (and certainly the most important) challenge we will ever face. Only through the grace of God can we accomplish such a monumental task.
Finally, my faith journey, which can best be described as a journey to the West Coast on roads full of pot holes and detours in a vehicle that breaks down often. (Note: the detours are always a result of my poor decision making, and always lead me to a dead end.) The only way I advance to my destination is to focus on the rising sun in the morning and setting sun in the evening. Otherwise, I will end up journeying in circles, frustrated at every turn.
Recently, I have found incredible strength and support by studying the lives of the saints…and having particular devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and her “Little Way.” Jesus instructs us to “be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) I find that being “perfect”, is a bar too high for me. This doesn’t mean that I ignore Jesus’ command, but failure is always one step in front of me when the focus is perfection. But the saints…that’s a different story. I can relate to them because they struggled as we all do. Matthew Kelly in his book, Rediscover the Saints says: “Too often, we set the saints aside, saying, ‘I’m not like them.’ We put them on a pedestal and claim we are doing so out of respect. But are we? Is it possible that we elevate them on those pedestals so we can pretend that they are different, a special class of human beings, a super race, so that we don’t have to strive to be saints ourselves? Our willingness to complacently settle for mediocrity is massive.”
Therese taught me an important lesson: If I want to be a saint then I must live like a saint.” It’s like wanting to be a professional golfer or basketball player. If I don’t practice and invest myself in the endeavor, then I have no shot of making the PGA Tour or NBA. Therese stated very early in her life that she wanted to be a great saint. Some may see this as arrogance or self-pride. I do not. I see her as someone who took Matthew 5:48 seriously, and strived to be perfect. She spoke often of falling short, and of doing nothing in her life that was significant. But…she lived for God alone, and that is the road to sainthood. On my journey to the West Coast, I need to get out of the driver’s seat, get into the backseat, and as Carrie Underwood says, let “Jesus take the wheel.”
Guest Post Written By: Bill McKenna
Part 2 will be posted May 15, 2020