September 30, 2011

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Prayer can help us see God in daily life

Sean GallagherIt might be natural to think that most learning for children, youths and college students takes place in a classroom or, in our emerging modes of education, on a computer when they take a class online.

That’s probably how I thought about it when I was in school. But as a parent, I’m learning a new perspective on education.

My two oldest sons, Michael and Raphael, may not know it, but they’re learning before they get to their school as I drive them most mornings along East Washington Street in Indianapolis.

As we drove along that route recently, I pointed out to them the old apartment buildings and houses that I suspect were built 75 to 100 years ago in the heyday of Indianapolis’ near east side.

Back then, those apartments and homes would have been quite nice with many of the luxuries available at the time. Today, many of the buildings are run down, and don’t have the amenities found in many of today’s houses and apartments.

But many of their striking architectural features remain.

As we drove by them, I had Michael and Raphael chose which ones they liked best.

Each found buildings that they really liked. But they also noticed that many of them needed work. And, at one point,

6-year-old Raphael said, “Even if there are problems with some buildings, each one has something special about it.”

That little comment got me thinking, and I replied that what he said about the apartment buildings and homes is also true about people.

Sometimes their schoolmates might be mean or seem strange. But each of them is still special because each is made in the image and likeness of God and each has a soul.

Raphael, in his precocious way, said in reply, “Yeah, and it will live forever!”

That was a simple conversation that any parent or grandparent can have with their children or grandchildren. You don’t need to be a theologian to help your children see how such spiritual insights can be found in everyday life.

But you can’t give what you don’t have. We can’t help our children to see how their faith connects in relevant ways to their daily lives if we don’t see those connections ourselves.

And if we don’t see them, then we need to re-examine our views on our education. Do we think that it ended when we got our high school diploma or college degree? If so, then we’re selling short the place of education in our lives.

We could learn more things about this world every day for the rest of our lives, and there would still be more to learn. If that’s true about this world, how much more true is it about the things of God?

We can learn more about God and our relationship with him in simple ways. Prayerfully reading short passages from the Bible each day is one way. Listening to trustworthy Catholic podcasts is another.

But essential to any of these or any other means of learning more about the faith is a commitment to prayer, hopefully on a daily basis.

When we take time to speak in our hearts with God about what is happening in our daily lives, his grace will eventually help us see how he is working in all our ups and downs. He may even show us how we can see his Good News coming to us in the sometimes run-down yet architecturally interesting buildings that we drive by each day.

A regular life of prayer is a gift that keeps blossoming in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones, especially our children. Take time for prayer. It will obviously pay dividends in the life to come. But it can also transfigure the ordinary daily moments of this life with the glory of God. †

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