Agnes and Theresa lectored at our parish family Mass this morning. They have read publicly before--two Christmas pageants, my father's funeral, their baby sister's Baptism--but this was the first time the girls read together at a Sunday Mass.
I sat in the front row watching intently as my daughters stepped forward one by one. Theresa began with a passage from the book of Hosea, her ten-year-old voice ringing with almost musical clarity:
"Thus says the Lord: I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. She shall respond there as in the days of her youth. . . . "
Theresa appeared so poised and self-assured that my heart beat with gratitude for something I rarely give even a moment's thought--the privilege of having been there to teach her to read and the opportunity to witness the fruits of our efforts. Hosea's words, spoken by that familiar, beloved voice, echoed my tacit and ceaseless prayer as a mother--that I may "speak to her heart" and that Theresa and her siblings "respond there" always.
Agnes came next, discreetly tucking the superfluous stepping stool under the podium before presenting the passage from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians:
"Brothers and sisters: Do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ ministered to us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh."
Listening to Agnes speak St. Paul's metaphor, it occurred to me that his words articulate the only truly indispensable aspiration of home education. Our children must be a "letter of Christ ministered to us" so that "the Spirit of the living God" be written "on tablets that are hearts of flesh." How difficult it is to keep sight of this during the daily demands and details of our bustling days, but, as St. Paul says,"Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that of ourselves we are qualified to take credit for anything as coming from us; rather our qualification comes from God."
The Catechism teaches that marital "love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education." CCC Sect. 1653. Home education is an immense task, but, as always, God does not leave us to scale the mountain alone. He bears us up by His gift of grace so that we may provide a home that is "the first school of Christian life and a 'school for human enrichment'" where children "learn endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous--even repeated--forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life." CCC Sect. 1657.
The youthful lectors at this morning's Mass beamed in my direction at the end of both readings, their faces alight with the pleasure of having completed a task well done. Little did they know they had just presented a Catechism lesson their mother hopes never to forget.