I want to share a personal story. Maybe even a little more personal than I usually do. It involves my son.
First, I want to say that I have conversations with so many people who say that their adult children no longer practice their Catholic Faith. And what a heartache that can be to a parent who did everything in their power to instill the love of God and Church in their children.
So, to start this story I want to say that we all know that everything happens in GOD’S TIME. He is not encumbered with clocks and calendars like we are. It is all eternal time. So it may seem like a long time to have a prayer answered, but to God the time is just right!
Two months ago, I sat with my son all day as he prepared (waited) to be shipped off to the Naval Training Center on Lake Michigan. In conversation, I asked him if a sailor wears a dog tag. (My only frame of reference is the Marine Corps in which my daddy served.) He said yes, they do…funny you should ask. They had just asked him about his religious preference and he told them NONE. My heart sank. He’s a cradle Catholic, attended Catholic school, and has always seen religion being practiced around him.
He has always continued to identify as a Catholic but, as an adult, has not practiced his faith regularly. He said he didn’t want to be a hypocrite and say that he was a Catholic when he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain.
I reminded him of the story of the Prodigal Son and assured him that there would be much rejoining when he came back.
I gave him a Soldier’s rosary (woven thread with no metal) and he said he would carry it in his pocket.
I got my first letter from him after a few weeks and he said that he had attended Mass and that “it felt really good”. He shared that the homily had really made him think about some things in his life and he was quite moved by it.
And then, the pièce de résistance, is that the chaplain handed out bibles as they left the chapel. As a recruit, he’s not allowed any reading material other than religious. So, he’s reading the bible now.
I shared my opinion that the bible can be rather daunting if you just start at the first page and try to plow through it. I encouraged him to let the Spirit direct him and feel free to just open to a random page.
(Of course, the beauty of it is that it may seem random to us, but we are certainly being directed to a passage that will be very meaningful at that given moment.)
I haven’t received another letter from him. He’s tried to call several times, but I was on vacation and out of cell phone range. I believe in my heart that he is continuing this path. And really, even if today isn’t the day, this experience has made a positive impact on his journey. Tomorrow I’ll fly to Chicago to watch him graduate from Boot Camp! I couldn’t be more proud of him!
As a side note, I have often talked about the little things that can make a big impact on someone. While I was on vacation, I sent my son at least one, and sometime up to five postcards every day for 14 days. I started each one with the day number (DAY 1…). I knew he would want to put them in chronological order. I just shared the usual postcard drivel, told him I loved him and was praying for him. The cost the minimal. I knew it would make him happy and that he would feel very loved and not forgotten.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do Random Acts of Kindness. Try every day. And thank God for answering your prayers.