Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, April 8, 2011

Feast of Saint Julie Billiart

Good morning. Once again Jesus is the target of misunderstanding and is challenged by the Jewish leaders. This morning’s Gospel reminded me of the importance, like Jesus before the bullies in today’s Gospel, of standing up for ourselves, and the importance as parents to do what we can toward developing strong convictions and fortitude in our children. As I read of Jesus being challenged in the Gospel from the Book of John I am reminded of the movie The Mighty, based upon the novel Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick. This story is about a young boy with an inherited genetic malformation known as Morquio's Syndrome that eventually results in his death and about his friendship with an older over-sized boy and their mythical adventures. They engage themselves in an imaginary world of knightly chivalry and heroic activity in the face of inner doubts and the ridicule and challenges of those around them. It is a delightful story about the importance of conviction and fortitude which I strongly recommend viewing by families of adolescents. The importance of developing conviction and fortitude was likewise reinforced by the recognition of the Feast of Saint Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame. I am personally grateful to Saint Julie, their foundress, and the Sisters of Notre Dame. The Sisters of Notre Dame, particularly those from the community in Toledo, Ohio taught me throughout most of my grade school years. It is through their persistent educational efforts I along with many others students came to appreciate, in the words of Pope John Paul II in Love and Responsibility, that “real goods’ come as a result of ‘our actions” and of the importance of standing up for our convictions. As parents we need to be about educating our children to appreciate the importance of “seeking true ends” and the importance of the conviction of our beliefs. I am forever grateful to the good Sisters of Notre Dame for their part in my moral formation and I strongly believe we need to return to more of the structured formation of our past. The indulgent and permissive style of our current educational and familial approach has resulted in a great deal of confusion and uncertainty regarding our purpose. Some of the lessons the good Sisters offered which we parents would do well to follow are: First, the importance of respect for oneself, and for others. A simple lesson when one thinks about it, give respect and we learn to respect. Second, if as parents we lead they will follow. I learned a great deal from watching the Sisters. Third, the Sisters taught me the importance of thinking critically and taught me to reason and they shared the important lessons from the lives of the Saints and the need for good habits. Fourth, they taught me well the consequences of neglecting our duties and responsibilities, there was no coddling of dereliction. Fifth, in the form of attentiveness, consistency and structure, they offered their love. Thank you Sisters! As parents there is a lesson to be learned here from the good Sisters. It is our greatest responsibility as parents, to help our children come to know and appreciate that real goods come as a result of our actions. May our parenting provide the conviction and fortitude our children need. Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and works of Saint Julie Billiart. May the works of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Toledo and throughout the world continue to be blessed.

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