Practical steps to pave the way to heaven
The primary obligation of parents towards their children is to pave the way for the salvation of their immortal souls. Jesus pointed this out very clearly: “What would it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process. What can a man exchange for his very soul?” This Biblical passage was instrumental in the conversion of the great missionary, Saint Francis Xavier.
In this short essay, we would like to pinpoint five concrete decisions and practices that parents can undertake so as to pave the way to heaven for their children. Never forget parents: your primary obligation is to bring every family member to heaven, to be with God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and saints for all eternity.
1. Baptism. Provide for the Baptism of your child as soon as possible. During the course of the pregnancy good parents can do all the prior preparations so as to have the child baptized rapidly. Baptismal talks, papers, godparents, etc. can be prepared and ready even before the child is born. Remember the words of Jesus, referring to the small child: “Let the little children come to me because as such is the kingdom of heaven.”
2. Pray Immediately! A child can be compared to a sponge. The nature of a sponge is to absorb, especially liquids and usually water. However, if one puts dirty water into the sponge, then dirty water will be wrung out; clean, then clean water will be wrung out. A three year-old child can watch TV and repeat dumb, offensive and vulgar words or songs. If this is the case, why should parents not fill the mind, heart and lips of the child with prayers to the Guardian Angel, to Mary, to the Trinity, to the Heavenly Father? Why allow the child to be filled with junk, better, to fill him/her with beautiful prayers?
3. Offer it Up. Parents, we invite you to teach your children the short but all important phrase: “Offer it up!” What this really means is to take advantage of daily sufferings and crosses that God sends to adults as well as to children. Much suffering is wasted because it is not offered up to God. Why not teach children, even when they are small, to offer up the headache, toothache, hot or cold weather, the fall and bruise and the cut, so that these sufferings will have infinite value. Mom and Dad, you are the first teachers, especially in the area of faith. Be faithful to your marriage vocation!
4. “Love one another as I have loved you.” The Last and greatest commandment of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was that of love— to love all as he loved us. Parents who are blessed by God to have more than one child should make a concerted effort on their part to love all their children and their immortal souls. However, the devil always seeks to sow the seed of discord, confusion, jealously, rivalry, comparisons, and suspicions. Parents must strive with all of the energy of their wills to foster mutual respect, humility, love and harmony among their siblings.
At all costs parents must avoid the “Cain-complex”. What is the “Cain-complex”? The Cain-complex consists in pitting one sibling against the other. It results in the ugly fruits of comparisons, rivalries, jealousy often leading to envy and fights and hatred and killing, if not physically at least in the heart. How can the “Cain-complex” be avoided? A simple remedy: it is all related to union with God in prayer, the three dimensions of family prayer. Parents should pray for their children; parents should teach their children to pray; finally, parents should pray with their children. If done, this will prove to be one of the most efficacious remedies to avoid the ugly, but all too prevalent “Cain-complex.”