Sharing, teaching God's love with children Print
Everyday Faith
Thursday, Aug. 04, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Everyday Faith column by Julianne Nornberg

The face of my four-year-old scrunched up as he sounded out a word in a book. "Gah," he said, successfully figuring out the sound of the letter "G."

He considered the next letter, "O," thought a moment, then said, "Ahh."

Finally he got to the last letter, "D," and put the sounds together. "Gah-ahh-dd," he said slowly, enunciating each letter individually, his eyebrows knit in concentration.

"Gahd."

Suddenly, his eyes flew open, his eyebrows shot up, and the light of understanding emanated from his joyous grin as he shouted out, "God! It says God!"

 

Just like that, in one joyful instant, the sounds of the alphabet came together to make sense into a longer, fuller meaning -- a word.

Miracles of life

Watching my son's puzzlement transform into the joy of discovery and meaning, I witnessed a tiny miracle.

That same miracle can happen to each of us as we strive to grow deeper in relationship with God.

We, too, puzzle and ponder over Scriptures, searching for meaning in our own lives. We toil about in our own trials and struggles, perhaps forgetting that God is always there to give us the supernatural grace to overcome them or offer them up as sacrifices.

At times we bang our heads in frustration when we seem to have found ourselves in the desert of our lives, grasping for life-giving water, the love of God.

Discovering God's love

And then, in a moment of joyful discovery, everything comes together in an instant of meaning and we begin to comprehend the fullness of God's love for us.

Perhaps God trickles revelations of His love through the many small miracles that happen throughout our lives, or perhaps He reveals it to us in a torrential waterfall with a difficult experience forcing us to focus only on Him.

But whether it is revealed to us in a trickle or a waterfall, our discovery is the same: a tremendous well of love that is way beyond anything we have ever imagined on this earth.

To be at the edge of this overflowing spring of love is to look into heaven itself. No words written or spoken can ever capture that gift. It must be discovered for oneself.

As Catholic writer Fr. Thomas Merton said, "The grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference."

When we open ourselves to God's love and with faith and hope truly know He is there and loves us beyond all telling, nothing else in the world matters except to try to allow His will to replace our own.

We must take care of the things of this world, yes, but always with an ear to the voice of love that is deep in our hearts. That is God. Follow Him, focus on Him despite all obstacles.

Teaching our children

This is what we must teach our children, yet how do we teach them something they can only experience for themselves? How do we lead them to God's love?

We can only give them the tools -- the "alphabet" of our Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church -- so that they can use them to discover the most important "word" of their lives: God's real and unending love.

We must help our children's faith become a part of who they are, not just who they are on Sundays.

From an early age we can teach them everyday tools, taken from our own spiritual lives, such as morning and evening prayers, the Rosary, meal prayers, bedtime devotionals, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, making the Sign of the Cross and saying "Hi Jesus, I love you" each time we pass a church.

With the right tools and God's grace, they too will one day discover for themselves God's overwhelming love. Just as learning to read is a vital skill in life, developing a personal relationship with Jesus is the single most important tool our children will ever have to get through this life.

They won't get to heaven without Him.


Julianne Nornberg, mother of four young children, is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish, Waunakee.