ColumnsNaming Grace

Prophetic parents

At his mother’s funeral Mass, Father John Riccardo of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Plymouth, Michigan, preached, “My mom, along with my dad, bore, quite honestly, more spiritual fruit for the Gospel than any bishop or priest I have ever met.” He spoke of his mother’s passion for passing on her faith in Jesus. She “poured” faith into her children, knowing “there is nothing greater for a parent than to invest in their children and to help them be successful in the only thing that matters, which is to come to a place where you make a decision, personally, to say, ‘Jesus is my Lord too.’” Father Riccardo’s mother served as a prophet to her children and grandchildren.

In this Sunday’s readings, Moses, on the mountaintop, bestows the spirit upon 70 elders, plus two men, who “had been left in the camp.” Today, faced with our church scandal and a scandalous world, we plead for the spirit to breathe upon our people. Perhaps we look to those left in the camp of their homes, parents/grandparents, for strong and inspirational words. If open, parents will receive the gift of pro­phecy to bring Jesus to their children, friends and neighbors. “Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all.”

My mother stood strong as a prophet. No matter how scandalized the church, she prophesied, “Not even the gates of hell will prevail against the church.” No matter how great the chaos or deep the despair in our culture, she would declare, “There is always hope.” Parents/grandparents, who rise to receive the spirit, will prophesy the truth of our faith. “No matter how dark the sin of some members, the Church is forever holy because Jesus Christ remains alive in the Eucharist and community.”

Prophets speak boldly amidst tears and persecution. We summon fearless parents who speak the beauty of God in the face of destruction and discrimination, courageous parents who tell the truth of God’s com­mands — no matter the world’s values, daring parents who preach the holy name of Jesus when unpopular, sacrificial parents who live counter-culturally, and holy parents who place their faith in Jesus before all things.

From their child’s first breath, prophetic parents can “see” and work vigilantly in guarding and guiding their children. They speak of their children as God’s beloved, aid their children in discerning God’s plan, and lay before their children a path of discipleship. Prophetic parents walk through fire to lead their children to God — knowing it’s the only way to true joy and eternal life. With the prophet Jeremiah, parents utter God’s words: “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you — oracle of the LORD — plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”

Father Riccardo later encouraged parents to write letters of faith to their children, reiterating, ”Please invest in your children.” He then entrusted God to welcome his mother into paradise with these familiar words: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He concluded, “Those are the only words we want to hear. When you hear that, life was worth it. If we don’t hear that, no matter what else we achieve, we achieve nothing.” When these words are seared into our hearts, we will rise up as prophetic parents. Now, that’s good news!

As a parent/grandparent, do you consider yourself a prophet?

How will you speak truth to your child/grandchild?

 Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first preachers” of the good news in the domestic church — the church of the home.