by Ken Rolheiser
Accepting Grace and Family Faith

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25).
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7; 20-25).

How do we pass on this wellspring of faith to our children? How do we bind them in the secure treasure of Grace promised to the followers of Christ when there is much indifference to the call to worship in our churches

Thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus there is an endless receptacle of Grace available to all. In addition, we have a bountiful treasure chest of Grace thanks to our parents, grandparents and ancestors in the faith.

We can add to this inheritance of blessings during our lives when we offer up our prayers, our lives, our suffering and ultimately our deaths as a recompense for the failings and short comings in our own lives and the lives of those we love.

How does this work? Those lives of virtue before us have added to the positive side of good grace, and in the case of our parents and grandparents they specifically prayed for and and offered their sufferings and death for us and for our salvation. That is hard to say no to.

Every morning I pray to my family members who have gone before me, and I remember specifically my grandparents on my father’s and mother’s sides of the family. And I go back further to dusty photos of great grandparents in the faith.

My grandfather in Russia had wanted to become a priest, but his father said, “You are strong. You can work!” So he became a farmer. But he never gave up on his dream, and many years later he asked my brother who was in the seminary at the time, “Do you think you will become a priest?”

“It looks promising,” my brother replied. My grandfather turned aside with tears in his eyes. Two days later he was born to eternal life. And so it was. The dream of faith of my grandfather was fulfilled for generations of faith blessings as two of my brothers became ordained ministers in the church.

Now I can tell my children and grandchildren about this wonderful treasury of Grace they are heir to, as Christians. We can add to that treasury of Grace Jesus created. Along with the Saints, our prayers, sacrifices and lives can contribute to the treasure that is there for all.

Even if we are not attending church on a regular basis, we are included in the love and prayers of family members who go before us. We are never lost. We are always included. And unless we stubbornly want to deny it, we are in the flock of the Good Shepherd who watches over us.

Our children and grandchildren may not know it yet, but we can encourage them to follow this family faith journey. May our example always lead and inform as we continue to follow our calling. 

(586 words)