My middle son, one of three, is my current dad-seat-dweller. He’s just turned eight.
I’m thrilled to have him heading to his First Communion this spring. Just as thrilled, for all different reasons, to have him headed to First Reconciliation sooner than that.
At Mass he sits on my lap, at least until the sitting part of the Mass ends. He’s the latest keeper of a venerable tradition that my femurs have learned to tolerate.
My three daughters and my oldest son preceded him in making me their pew for a time, by my allowance, their choice, and as needed, their insistence.
Though my focus at Mass is thereby rendered less than monastic, I do like it. It works for who I am.
This arrangement gives me time, holy time, to hold my children. It grants me closeness to quietly guide in Mass etiquette, give needed reminders, and share truth.
“There’s Jesus.” “We love you Jesus.” “Say it with me Theodore…” “Sing with me; here’s the verse…”
When we stand, with my son’s little feet on the kneeler to be a bit taller, my hand is usually on that little shoulder, sponsor like. Sponsors get to do that liturgical action once for their charges. I do it weekly.
In those circumstances, and in so many others as dad, I am offering certitudes. Whispered often, perhaps joyfully, often correctively and emphatically. Always repeatedly. This is what is true.
We read the Bible together daily in our family. My Catechism gives me certitudes – to understand Scripture, to share it in a way faithful to all that God actually shared with those first believers. To be a faithful echo of the apostles, whispered right into my son’s very needy ear.
The world expects me to tell my little children about not touching the top of the oven when it’s on. That’s a certitude.
A parent fills a child’s life with certitudes. But only ones that actually are. My opinions can be clutter. How much more important than avoiding a burned hand it is for me to help them avoid bigger, deeper things that burn: sins, addictions, abuses, hell for Heaven’s sake!
There are certitudes about these things. Good dads make sure their answers, whispered or thundered, are true.
“That is Jesus, Theodore, on that altar, right now.” “Jesus loves you, always.” And mercy, love’s other name: “Jesus will forgive you.” “I know it hurts, let’s keep trusting Him.” “God is a good Daddy, better than me, Theodore.”
I can’t be a good dad without a Catechism. I just can’t.
The Bible is God the Father’s love letter to His children.
The Catechism is Mother Church’s generous, sure counsel to allow me to come to know the Father’s heart with certitude. To get the message right, just right.
CTS are honoured to be publishing a new, definitive and complete edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You can pre-order at www.ctsbooks.org/catechism
William Keimig is a guest Blogger