After baths, stories, and prayers, I would bless our children while tracing the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite, and God bless you.” And now and then, I would lean over and whisper, “Remember, God created you for a very special purpose.”
As the years passed, I would question quietly, “Why did God make you?”
And they would respond, “For a very special purpose.” God creates each child — each person — for a very special purpose, and the only tragedy in life lies in never discovering and living God’s purpose.
Since childhood, our son, Joe, bore a contemplative spirit and exhibited considerable kindness and concern for others. In college, Joe took part in campus ministry and majored in theology. Therefore, we were not the least bit surprised the day he called with some news: “I want you to know I’m flying to South Bend to meet with the Congregation of Holy Cross about entering the seminary.”
I listened and said, “What led to your decision?”
Joe responded, “It’s just time.” Yes, it was just time for Joe to live out his very special purpose.
Several years later, while in the seminary, Joe called: “Mom, I’ve been thinking a lot about how you always said God created me for a very special purpose.” I just smiled.
My husband and I are parents of two daughters and four sons. We never said to Joe, “You are to be a priest.” Rather, we said to all our boys: “You can be anything God is calling you to: husband, father, priest, religious, single.” And we also encouraged our daughters to discover their vocations and purpose. They, like us, will spend a lifetime discerning how to live out this purpose during different stages of life: each in his or her vocation — each with unique temperaments, gifts, talents, and charisms.
After seven years of prayer, study, and discernment, it was time for Joe’s ordination on September 5, 2020, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame. It was a crystal-clear, glorious day, filled with excitement and thanksgiving. Yet it was the next morning, though cloudy and rainy, at Fr. Joe’s First Mass, that stirred my heart. Witnessing our son celebrate Mass, preach the homily, and consecrate the Body of Jesus and Blood of Jesus, moved us deeply. But it was after Communion, when Fr. Joe invited us forward to bless him, that brought tears as I recalled tucking Joe into bed — all those years ago — and whispering, “Why did God create you, Joe?”
Fr. Joe, God created you for a very special purpose and has led you to this, the priesthood.
And we bless you:
May your mind be filled with all that is good, and holy, and pure.
May your eyes see Christ in each person you meet.
May your ears hear the voice of God speaking, ‘You are my beloved son.’
May the words of your mouth rouse the weary, heal the wounded, and comfort the brokenhearted. May they inspire and instruct.
May your heart — through His Sacred Heart — overflow with love, compassion, mercy, and joy.
May your hands bring Christ’s saving presence through the waters of Baptism, the sign of absolution, the oil of anointing and His precious Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
May your feet bring the Good News to the poor and poor in spirit.
May you remain faithful to your sacred vows and embrace His Holy Cross — our only hope.
May God protect you from all evil and keep you strong in temptation.
May the Lord bless you and keep you all the days of your life.
Or as Dad says, “God bless, dude.” We love you.
How will you awaken your child to his or her special purpose?
First published: CatholicMom.com
September 23, 2020
Mary Pedersen reflects on the Gospel through the lens of a parent/grandparent. You may follow Mary on Facebook: Mary Pedersen: Naming Grace in the Domestic Church or at www.marypedersen.com. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twenty-fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time
“10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. Ready or not, here I come.” This past Christmas, one of our sons joined in Hide & Seek with his young nieces and nephews. Our grandchildren giggled and laughed as they chased around the house. As soon as one of the little ones moved close to finding our son, he’d sneak into a better hiding spot. They were seeking in our closets and cupboards, and searching behind sofas and curtains. Eventually, our son hid in plain sight; seriously, he stood next to a wall—yet our grandchildren kept running and chasing right past him. They never stood still long enough to find him, though he was in their presence.
Twenty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time
Catholic speaker, Hallie Lord, told of her encounter with the Sisters of Life in New York City. Lord asked one young sister, dressed in the signature navy and white habit, “What do you say when you meet a woman seeking an abortion?” The sister spoke softly, “We invite her to breakfast.” Ah. The sisters simply encourage any troubled woman to sit at the table to share in a good meal and warm conversation. One can imagine a distressed pregnant woman calming with the first sip of steaming hot chocolate or bite of a freshly baked cinnamon roll. When creating a place at the table, and listening with humility to the story of another, peace enters the room.
Johnny, age four, loves adventures! Each day, his mom takes him out to explore a new trail or discover raspberries under a scratchy bush. Recently, we took Johnny to a creek teeming with tadpoles and bugs. Johnny asked what seemed like a thousand questions: “Mimi, why is this frog so green?” “Mimi, why does this bug jump?” “Mimi, why, why, why?” In the book, A More Beautiful Question, author Warren Berger claims, “4-year-olds ask as many as 200 to 300 questions a day. ... kids ask an average of 40,000 questions between the ages of 2 and 5.” Though often exhausting for parents, questioning proves essential for one’s growth. “... Berger shows, the most creative, successful people tend to be expert questioners. They’ve mastered the art of inquiry, raising questions no one else is asking—and finding the answers everyone else is seeking.”
“Mom, you sure do spiral. One moment you’re flying high and then one bit of unpleasant news and you spiral down.” She stopped me in my tracks. It’s true. We were excited about creating welcome bags for a family event scheduled in September. But the minute she mentioned a guest sending her regrets because of concerns about coronavirus, I spiraled. “No one will attend. We may as well forget the bags. Maybe we should all stay home.” Laura whipped me back to reality, “Mom, no. We need to make a few adjustments, but a cancellation does not warrant we all stay home.” Spiraling. In my little mind, I go from excitement to dread in moments. I plunge from enthusiasm to devastation in seconds. I plummet from faith to fear in milliseconds.
The blog on this page presents reflections on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding leaders of the domestic church in their vital task as “first heralds” or “first preachers” of the Good News in the home.