Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cupcakes, Handshakes, and Faith in God: Most Valuable Life Lessons from Parents and Grandparents

“‘Cupcakes,’ she said.”  Fr. Michael Renninger began his sermon on Friday May 5, 2017.  “The answer to the interviewer’s question was cupcakes.” 

Fr. Renninger told us about how he’d been watching a TV show on which someone was interviewing three famous people.  Each one of them was asked: what was the most important thing that your parents or grandparents taught you?

The world famous cook answered cupcakes.  She went on to explain that her grandmother had taught her how to make cupcakes at a young age.  As she got older, she was more involved in the process and learned to make other things, but it all started with baking cupcakes. 

A world-renowned golfer was the next person in the line-up.  Most likely imagined that he would mention something about being shown the right way to hold a club, but he didn’t.  He attributed his father teaching him the proper way to shake someone’s hand as being the key to his success.  He emphasized having a firm grip and looking the person right in the eyes. 

An incredibly successful businessman was the last to answer the question.  For him, it was faith in God that was the most important lesson he learned from his parents.  Fr. Renninger used this as the springboard to talk about the role of parents and grandparents in the lives of children.  What is it most important that we teach children?  What should be most important?

What’s the most important thing that Joseph and Mary taught Jesus?  They taught Him to love and trust in God.  They taught him how to read the Torah and how to pray.  They exemplified what it meant to be obedient to the Will of God the Father. 

Being at St. Mary’s Church during a school Mass on Grandparents’ Day brought back memories of when I was a student there.  In fifth grade, my nana passed away.  That May, I cried during the school Mass on Grandparents’ Day, wishing Nana (my paternal grandmother) was still alive.  From middle school on, I adopted and/or would regularly visit senior citizens at nursing homes to fill that void in my life. 

An eighth grader selected by her classmates for her Mary-like qualities was called forward to crown the Blessed Mother.  This year, the student’s name was Laura.  Though our family lived in New Jersey during my eighth-grade year, I saw pictures of my classmate at St. Mary School, also named Laura, crowning Mary that May after the school Mass.  

At the beginning of this Grandparents' Day Mass, several kids had processed in with bouquets and baskets filled with flowers.  Some they put around the statue of Mary and the rest they put in front of the altar.  Laura approached the statue of Mary which Fr. Renninger had talked about during his homily.  It was just inside the entryway of the church.  Mary is holding a bowl, a very ordinary household item, and likely making bread.  

What are the most important lessons we can teach children as parents, grandparents, Godparents, caregivers, teachers, aunts, uncles, and family friends?  It might look like fancy cupcakes or the proper way to give a handshake on the outside, but what we most want and need to convey is faith in God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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