I recently heard someone say that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her faith. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. Here we are, in the midst of the Christmas shopping season, and I hear that the greatest gift someone received from her parents was the gift of faith. Not an Apple Watch, not a laptop, not a designer bag or piece of jewelry, but the simplest of gifts–the ability to believe what is not seen and embrace it, the courage to trust in God, and the knowledge that there is a glorious new life awaiting us.
I thought to myself, how true it is that the greatest gift we can pass down is easy and free to give, but then I realized, faith is not easy and it’s not free…
What is the price of faith?
Search back through history, and you will discover that there are many costs. Since the creation of Adam, through the time of the flood, the plight of the Israelites in Egypt, the Babylonian Exile, the battles with the Philistines, and the early Church persecutions, to the persecutions that still take place today, the followers of God have paid great costs for their faith.
Even now, far removed from the games in the colosseum, those who hold fast to their faith are ridiculed, discriminated against, called uneducated, and encouraged to uphold “principles” that go against their beliefs. Costs can include the loss of a job, the loss of respect, and even the loss of friends. Who would want to gift such things to their children? Wouldn’t it be easier not to hand down our faith to our children, to let them choose their own beliefs, to allow them to live freely, without the binds of religion, in this world where the nonbelievers increase in numbers every day? Wouldn’t they be happier if we told them to forget about their faith, to follow whatever false god they choose, be it money, sex, popularity, power, or material wealth? Wouldn’t they be more tolerant and raise a greater generation of people without the confines of religion?
Then again, without faith where will they find comfort? Will they seek love and acceptance in another’s arms, in a bottle, in drugs? To whom or what will they turn when they don’t understand the simple words of David in Psalm 23?
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
Without faith, where will they find true joy, the kind of joy that can only come from the Father? How will they understand the words of St. Paul to the Romans?
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
Without faith, how will they overcome hardship, suffering, or loss? Where will they find hope, in whom will they trust?
We must remind them of the words of Peter,
Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you (Peter 5:7)
And of the words of the prophet, Jeremiah,
For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
Faith is the greatest, the purest, the most magnificent gift we can give to our children.
Watching their father say the Rosary every day is a reminder of perseverance.
Making sure our children attend Mass every weekend, no matter where they are or what they’re doing, teaches commitment and steadfastness. It shows them that nothing, no person or thing in this world, is more important than showing gratitude to God (the meaning of the word Eucharist, the highlight of the Mass, is thanksgiving!).
Reading and studying scripture, praying before meals, and openly teaching and discussing the tenets of our faith will create human beings who will be open, tolerant, loving, forgiving, comforting, and yes, even prosperous and rich in more ways than they can count. For “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).
Every Sunday, when Mass is ending, Catholics are told one of two things: “The Mass is ended, go in peace” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” Though they are different words, it is understood that they have the same meaning. We are to take the gratitude, the worship and praise, the enlightenment, the grace, and the joy we experience during Mass out into the world. We are to leave giving praise by saying, “Thanks be to God,” and to then share the message of the Good News with the world.
We must begin in our own homes with our own children.
What does your family place above your faith? Sports? Social lives? Work? Travel? We can do better! We must show our children that God matters. Spirituality matters. Morality matters. Going to church matters. OUR FAITH MATTERS!
Set aside that one hour each week to go to church as a family, even if you’re on vacation or have to juggle your calendar to make it work. Talk about your faith; encourage discussions of faith. Say grace before each meal. Remind your children to say their prayers each night. Remind your college-aged children to go to Mass (I text mine every Sunday morning and hope for the best). Teach your children about your faith. If you don’t feel qualified, join a Bible study, read a book about your faith (check out the many, many books just for you by Scott Hahn). Volunteer at your church, serve a soup kitchen, help out at a homeless shelter. Volunteer your kids, too! Let them see your faith in action.
As we enter into the holiday season, I ask, where will you and your family be on Christmas? Opening presents bought with money, without giving a thought to why you are gathered to open presents to begin with? Will you take the time to go to church? Will you talk about the birth of Christ? Will you, in words and actions, give your children the only gift they will ever really need in this world and the next? How will you pass down your faith to our future generations?
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What I was writing about a year ago this week: Make your Own Hallmark Story This Christmas .
Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, is based, in part, on her family history and is garnering many five star reviews.
Book Three of the Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, is now available! Purchase your copy today of the “book that was a joy to read!”- Ann on GoodReads.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).