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We’re Aiming for Heaven

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While at a friend’s house just a few days ago, we were chatting about supporting our kids’ spiritual lives when she called over her nine-year-old son. “Trent, what’s your goal in life?”

“To be with Jesus in Heaven,” Trent replied, timid at having an audience. Conversing further with him revealed this little boy wasn’t robotically regurgitating words taught by his parents. He understood what it meant as well as a nine-year-old could. My friend and her husband will keep pointing Trent in this direction as long as he’s under their roof, and he won’t be likely to forget it as an adult.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is older, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 speaks to the reality we all experience: What we witness and learn in our childhood stays with us regardless of environment or circumstance.

Our little ones are with us just a short while before leaving the protection, guidance and wisdom of the proverbial nest. What’s that poignant sentiment? The days are long, but the years are short. There is so much that I want for all my children: experiences, joys, success and even failures to help them grow. On a superficial level, I want to make sure my kids fly the coop with sufficient knowledge to function. They need to know how to buy groceries, wash towels in hot water and tear off a piece of Saran wrap. They need a certain level of street smarts so they can navigate life.

More deeply, however, we want things for our kids that can come only by God’s grace. I hope my kids are happy. I hope they pursue holiness and joy in their vocations. I hope they help others willingly and gratefully, acting as the face of Christ to family, friends and strangers.

Fulfilling the deeper goals is what I want to spend my parenthood cultivating. Of course, my kids will emerge from our home with ability and knowledge, but what I want them to know more certainly than anything else is that they are precious and priceless to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and our returning God’s love yields in us abiding peace. Indeed, mutual love with God is what we’re made to have for eternity.

For parents, the means of supporting this love are innumerable. I offer some solid ways to take care of our children spiritually:

1. Pray for them daily: I’ve learned that praying for my children draws my attention to their hearts and simultaneously reminds me that God is Lord in their lives, not me.

2. Take them to Mass: Even if their faith wavers, as it can; even if they’re bored during the Liturgy. Recall that being in the physical presence of God is a tremendous grace on its own. Your faithful attendance to Mass will speak volumes to attentive children.

3. Listen openly and lovingly: It is a nearly universal inclination to regard God according to the experiences we had with our parents. Children who are lovingly received by their parents will understand that the Father offers the same openness.

In the homeschooling community, we throw out the phrase, “We’re aiming for Heaven over Harvard” when we struggle with teaching our kids. Academic and career achievements are wonderful, but the end-all, be-all is Eternal Life with God; a point every Catholic parent needs to hear on repeat.

We can bring our children to Jesus, rightfully confident that He will receive them and go to work in their lives, because, like us, He also wants good things for them. St. Jerome beautifully articulated this exact point when he said, “It is our part…to make a beginning, His to bring it to completion; ours to offer what we can, His to finish what we cannot.”

Katie Sciba is a national speaker and Catholic Press Award- winning columnist. Katie has been married for 14 years and is blessed with six children.

This article appeared in the August 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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