Question: In Col 1:24, we read about our sufferings “filling up what is lacking in…
Encouraging our families to grow and thrive in Christ
When he was a baby, my oldest son, Grant, couldn’t catch a break. He was born little and stayed that way for a long time. Doctors called it “failure to thrive” — a term I’ll never forget. He was sick, and we didn’t know why. He would scream, and we didn’t know why. He spit up whenever he ate, but it took multiple doctors more than a year to figure out the cause.
Time and medicine helped cure what we found out was chronic acid reflux, and he grew — slowly. He was still wearing size 18-month clothes when he was almost 4, and he had a small, squeaky voice that matched his frame. But he had an oversized rotten streak, as God managed to cram 10 pounds of orneriness into Grant’s 5-pound sack.
He’s almost grown now — tall and wiry, with his voice deepening by the day. At 14, only his trim frame gives evidence to the small kid he used to be, when I’d hold him and think how odd it was that he weighed next to nothing and, yet, it felt like I was holding the weight of the world in my arms.
Last Sunday after Mass, it looked like Grant himself was holding the weight of the world in his arms. His baby sister, Norah, looked so small, so fragile as Grant clung to her. She was clad in white, with the oil of catechumens fresh on her chest and chrism oil shining on her forehead — signs that the Holy Spirit now dwells within her heart and evidence that she is now anointed to carry out the mission of Christ.
But during the baptism, Grant looked, not nervous — with four younger siblings, holding babies is old hat — but intense and focused, like he was trying to comprehend fully the gravity of the moment. Our pastor had just asked him, “Are you ready to help the parents of this child in their duty as Christian parents?” Once he answered, “I do,” he wasn’t just holding his baby sister during her baptism; he was holding his goddaughter.
The question asked by our priest seems simple enough. Is Grant ready to help my wife and I in our duty as Christian parents? I hope so, because in today’s culture, we’re going to need all the help we can get in raising Norah — and all of our children, Grant included — to live and love like Christ. For a 14-year-old boy, that won’t be easy.
According to a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate of youths and young adults who had left the Catholic faith, the typical age for this decision to leave was made at 13. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they stopped being Catholic between the ages of 10 and 17.
So Norah wasn’t the only one tasked with a mission at her baptism. We hope that being godfather to Norah gives Grant even more of a reason to continue to develop and strengthen his faith, and to carry that faith into the world and model the light of Christ.
As their father, I’m excited to see this special bond develop between brother and sister, godfather and goddaughter. I’m eager to see Grant not only continue to grow, but continue to thrive.
Scott Warden is a managing editor at Our Sunday Visitor.