Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In today’s Gospel, Christ speaks in very challenging terms: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Throughout the Gospels Christ always recognizes children as models of simplicity, purity, and trusting faith, but he adds here a note of warning to those who might corrupt these innocent ones. Particularly at this time where so many are being accused of exactly this crime, we can’t help but pray for mercy and strength to protect that great gift of our children.
Here at Notre Dame we take very seriously this charge, and ensure that all our volunteers are screened and Virtus trained. And just as importantly, we take very seriously the positive call to help these children grow in faith so that they may avoid the spiritual dangers that surround them. I have been incredibly impressed with our school. Students are learning from dedicated teachers in an environment steeped in faith, where they are absorbing a spirit of discipline and respect that only such a context can impart. For those who do not share the blessing of Catholic school, our religious education program is led by faithful volunteers who generously share their talents in imparting those same lessons each week. Our youth ministry, which begins this weekend, builds on those foundations, helping our middle school and high school students navigate the pressures that surround them in the world. In a world with so many dangers, our mission is to create a haven at the parish where students are protected and guided so that they are prepared for what’s to come.
As hard as we try to accomplish this mission, there is one piece that is outside of our control, and that’s the home. The Catechism has a beautiful passage on the family, in particular stating: “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.” The keystone in the formation of children is the home. It is from their parents that they are given the gift of faith that transforms how they see the world. It’s from the way the household is run that they learn patience and understanding, that they learn how to pray, that they learn the meaning of selfless love as Christ reveals on the cross.
We pray in a special way this week for all families here at Notre Dame. We pray that in a world that has us running in a million different directions, chasing all the stuff that will someday turn to dust, our families here may recommit themselves to what’s important – God, family, community. And through that recommitment, our children may be raised in an environment of faith which prepares them to go out into the world and become saints.
Yours in Christ,