There is a famous story of a young girl in France, who was Jewish. On her way home from school, on July 15 or 16, 1942, she witnessed the infamous Vel d’Hiv roundup, when up to 13,000 Jews in Paris were taken to the old stadium Vélodrome d'Hiver and sent to Auschwitz. The young girl had enough sense not to go home, but turned around and went to the closest house. She knocked on the door and an older woman answered. The woman opened the door, looked at the girl, and let her in. Through out the entire war and occupation of Paris, this woman pretended that this girl was her own. The child was saved by a brave woman, who would have been killed, if she was discovered hiding a Jewess. The young girl was about twelve years old.
I am sharing some of the details as I am writing to parents a harsh but necessary lesson. As parents, it is our duty to protect our children from harm. It is not our duty to protect them from the truth of coming times of trials. Children in the next years will be facing a number of extremely difficult situations which will change their lives. These changes should not come as a shock or surprise to even those in grade school. Like this young girl, who knew what was happening, and used her common sense to survive, we need to be training children to live in the Church Militant, not the Church Mushy. There is a wrong way that parents look at suffering. Too many want to pretend that their children will not suffer. But, we have a duty to prepare our children spiritually for suffering. What does this mean? I have written many posts on the formation of virtue in children from a young age. That is merely the first step. Formation in the virtues means reading books about virtues, going to Mass in the week, going to regular confession, saying the rosary, going to proper Adoration.
When my son was eight, I took him to the abortion vigil across from where a clinic was being built, and he said the rosary with the group there. The priest who led the vigils told me recently that my young son confided in him that he wanted to be a priest. There is a connection. Another priest who influenced my son at the age of thirteen came out of the Serbian-Croatian wars as a young man. He shared stories of horrible persecution, and so did his wife. They lost family members because of their religion. They are Byzantine Catholics. The lives of the martyrs should be shown as soon as possible, especially such great movies as A Man for All Seasons. Ten to twelve would be an appropriate age to begin with movies, but books can be read much earlier. One can share the news about the Christians being persecuted in Syria, or Bethlehem or Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan and show children the lives modern martyrs. Families can pray for these Christians.
Agnes, Lucy, Tarcisius, Agatha, Odilo, Hugh of Lincoln,Peter Yu Tae-cho, the Ulma children, Ambrosio Kibuuka, Denis Ssebuggwawo, Kizito,Reparata, and José Luis Sánchez del Río are either Servants of God or Blesseds, or Saints. They are all martyrs, and so are the seven sons of the Mother in the Book of Maccabees, which you can find here. http://supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-mother-of-seven-brothers.html They were aged three to eighteen when they were martyred-all of the above. The Church honors them. There are many more child or adolescent saints who were martyred.
Denis SSebuggwawo, Age 16
I was reading books about the early martyrs at age seven. So was my son. The third step, as stories and movies is step two, would be the praying to martyrs, especially if the child is named after one. I named my son after two martyrs, knowing the days to come would bring suffering, and he would need strong patrons. Talk about the reality of the political situation if it begins to impinge on the family. Do not hide the truth, for example, if your church is shut down because of the lack of vocations or a priest shortage, share this with the family. If there are heresies or contraception taught in the schools, talk about this. Children need to know the future of the Church as real and affecting their lives. This would be step four. Step five would be explaining to them that to be a Catholic means making a decision for Christ and His Church even in hard times. Our children are surrounded more and more by people who hate the Church, hate Christ, and the ways of God. Step six would include discussions on what it means to be in the world, but not of the world. And, I would hope that parents would be living a life which is teaching this truth on a daily basis. Parents, it is our duty to raise saints, not marshmallow children.
Those in the Church Mushy may not be able to save their souls in the times to come. We are responsible for teaching our children how to become saints in a hostile world. And, of course, if you are helping your children become closer to Jesus, they will know that they are not alone. Say the Guardian Angel prayer daily. I do. to be continued....