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The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Suffer the little children to come unto me!

On January 6th, 2013 the Church celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. Here God is made known to man in human form, therefore the Church celebrates not only the adoration of the Magi, but also Christ's baptism in the river Jordan, and the very first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. In the three of these events we are revealed to Christ's divinity, as it shines through His humanity.

Recently while sitting at Church with my one and only daughter I too experienced an epiphany. As I looked around the congregation just before service began it dawned on me that there were quite a number of families who sat together with their children. It gave me sense of belonging as we were all their to commune together with God in His house. Having had to challenge many couples who express their reasons why they feel that it is not necessary to embrace the walls of the Church with their presence,  I felt the need to share why me and my family commune as a family with other members.
Who doesn't know that very common verse "Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it?" Taken from Proverbs 22:6 many families live by this favorite scripture verse. Jesus spoke very favorably about children being brought to Him even when the disciples tried to send them away. Children are like sponges, absorbing as much as they can in their youth. We as parents should never deny our children God's message of love, therefore it is important that they are not left to decide when they reach adult age whether Christianity is something they want to continue with. This should not be an option. Our children's spiritual growth and development should be our number one priority.
As I was listening to the radio while driving to work this morning the disc jockey was speaking about how so many people will only enter through the doors of a Church on average of three times in their entire lifetime. The first being at baptism (the parents may even come a few times leading up to the baptism, then that's it!), the next time may be marriage (so many promises made during marriage prep: "we plan to continue to strengthen our marriage by worshiping together as a family, and will bring up our children in the Church; so what went wrong?), and finally we may not be aware that we are at Church during this occasion, but it may be the only time some of us ever walk through the doors of Church, that of our burial.
 
So how have we as a society fallen away from what was once a practice that did not need encouraging, but rather it became a part of who we were. I recall my mother sharing her childhood years and explained how every Sunday, whether rain or sunshine they had to make their way 'by foot' to Church. This obviously paved a way for her as a mother in her adult years as she too ensured that we got to Church and later the same became a necessity for me and my family. There is no denying that children become the people they are by the instructions given to them by the adults they spend the most time with, whether it be the parents or guardians. Taking a look at our children today, can we say that we have raised them as instructed by the Church when we took the time to ask for the Sacrament of Baptism?
As parents we must ensure that we are practicing what we preach. We can not expect that our children will take us seriously when we tell them that they are to always put God first in their lives when we on the other hand are not leading by example. As a parent of two children (who by the way are growing up rather quickly, it won't be long before they are off to college and out of the nest), it is me and my wife's responsibility to ensure that they are taught about God, that they know and love Him and that they are grounded in their faith. Hopefully through our efforts we have accomplished this thereby curbing the desire to turn their backs on God and His Church when they are engaged with different cultures as they move on one day.
You see, there are many distractions out there today so having a solid foundation to stand on can counteract any evil forces that one may face. Granted we all are humans and fall astray every now and again, however we never forget where we came from and will seek that which was engrained in us from our youth. So parents I encourage you to celebrate fellowship and worship with your children regularly. We read in scriptures how Jesus regularly visited the synagogue to preach and to hear the Word of God, but to also commune with everyone there.
What are you waiting for? It is very difficult to bend the tree when it is older and more mature. What a better world we would be living in today if children's consciences were properly formed from birth so that when they are older they would truly know where to turn in time of need. As it is told in scripture: "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Mt 19:14. Jesus wants us to bring our children to Him. He loves us more than we can ever know. Imagine how a parent who is battling visitation rights to see his/her child feels when their spouse or the courts says "no." As you envision a parent outstretching his/her arms to greet their child who they haven't seen in a while, I ask that you picture Jesus up at the altar of the Church with His arms outstretched awaiting to greet our children as they walk in His house.

With that said I'm hoping to see many of my fallen away family and friends at Church again very soon. I am convinced that your children will be pleased that you made that step. Deep down inside our children are graving to belong to a Church family, but it is up to us as parents to make that first step.

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