“But how can you be so sure that what you believe is true? People in other religions are sure they are following the truth, too!”
Ah, youth. There comes a time in the life of every parent of a teenager or college student that you have The Discussion. High school and college-age kids — even the nicest of them — will at eventually come smack up against a parent’s prohibitions. “Why do I still have a curfew?” they moan, or, “What’s so bad about (fill in the blank) as long as I’m not hurting anybody?”
Or, a personal favorite: “But I’m basically a good person. I mean, I haven’t killed anybody!” Cue the violins.
Parenting is not for the fainthearted, as the guardian of any strong-willed 2-year-old will tell you. When older children begin to challenge us by questioning the teachings of the Church, we have to “always have an answer ready for people who ask us the reason for our hope” (1 Peter 3:15).
“For starters, we have eyewitness accounts — people who walked with Jesus, who saw Him die and later saw Him resurrected. We have historical records, a faith passed down to us from the Apostles themselves.”
That’s always a good answer for the brain, but how about the heart? If our faith is only based on data, then it will not have the power to transform our own lives, much less anyone else’s. It most certainly will not bring about conversion. And we all need conversion.
To be able to defend our faith and explain it to others, we ourselves must have a vibrant relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. We ourselves must be convinced of the veracity of what the Catholic Church teaches. We have to keep our eyes of faith open to see what God is teaching us.
In my own life, I recently saw God do something so amazing that even as I write this, I am struck by how real, how tender His love for us truly is.
On Ash Wednesday, I decided that I would try to spend more time with a lovely elderly widow in our neighborhood. Last week when I stopped by, she offered me some rosaries she had tucked away.
As we stood there in her bedroom that afternoon, I began unzipping the various cases and examining the rosaries. And then I came upon it, hidden away in a small black leather pouch. It wasn’t a rosary — it was a first-class relic of a saint, similar to the one my mother once had.
“S. Luciae” read a small label under the glass.
“Jeanie, this is a relic of St. Lucy!” I exclaimed. She smiled knowingly.
“I can’t take this from you,” I protested. She insisted.
What amazed me was that just three weeks earlier, I had released a novel about the faith of martyrs. St. Lucy, I knew, had given her life for the faith. I also knew St. Lucy is the patron saint of those with eye diseases. Since someone very dear to me is losing her vision, I knew I could share the blessing of the relic with her. I gave Jeanie a big hug and went home to read up on the saint.
As it turns out, the third century martyr is also one of four patron saints of authors. I, a freshly minted author, felt that Jesus was giving me a gentle embrace in bestowing the relic of St. Lucy on me.
How do I know my faith is real? How could I ever begin to doubt it? I see God blessing me each day in countless ways, at times overwhelming me with the sweetness of His love.
“You see, my daughter? I have my eye on you.” That’s what He’s saying. He knows who I am and He knows who you are, too. He is waiting, patiently, to shower His love on you and anyone else who seeks Him with a sincere heart. Teenagers included.