My thanks to Magnificat for allowing me to republish the following reflection, which I originally wrote for their column “She Pondered These Things in Her Heart” (January 2017).
"Christ's Own Forever"
A beautiful thing about ritual is that the words of our rites often echo in our minds when we need them most. Raising four children in a world of conflicting voices can be a daunting task. When my husband and I worry about the choices our children could make and the harm that might come to them, the words that reverberate in my mind and heart come from an old baptismal rite, one I heard many times in my own youth: You are marked as Christ’s own forever.
Releasing our children into the hands of God is perhaps the most difficult and the most liberating thing we can ever do as parents. We begin at their baptism by marking them as Christ’s own. It seems so easy when they are babies dressed in pure white! But as they grow – as they form their own ideas, opinions and lives – we realize this “release” is a process that lasts a lifetime. It is a prolonged exercise in trust, for we must trust that if we let go – if we release the anxious grip we have on our children – that he will catch them! He will hold them in a protective embrace that does not restrict them in the least. He will sort out the mixed messages in their hearts and penetrate his gaze into the deepest, truest parts of their souls. Only God can do these things.
Our children are growing up in confusing times. But we have given them over to be Christ’s own forever. And in that simple act, if we can really do it, we too will be free.