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21st Annual Charity Golf Tournament for Our Lady's Inn

Monday, 06/24/2024 at 11:00 AM - 6:30 PM

Independence Day Celebrations

Wednesday, 06/26/2024 at 6:30 PM

Pipes for Parkinson St. Louis

Saturday, 07/06/2024 at 6:30 PM

Summer Silent Directed Retreat

Monday, 07/08/2024 at 9:00 AM -
Saturday, 07/13/2024 at 4:00 PM

St. Joseph Parish Picnic

Friday, 07/12/2024 at 5:00 PM -
Saturday, 07/13/2024 at 11:00 PM

SSND Summer Service Week

Sunday, 07/14/2024 at 5:00 PM -
Saturday, 07/20/2024 at 11:00 AM

SSND Summer Service Week

Sunday, 07/14/2024 at 7:00 PM -
Saturday, 07/20/2024 at 11:00 AM

REFLECT Retreat for Mid-Life Singles

Friday, 07/19/2024 at 5:00 PM -
Sunday, 07/21/2024 at 3:00 PM

Encounter School of Ministry Summer Intensive

Wednesday, 07/24/2024 at 5:00 PM -
Saturday, 07/27/2024 at 9:00 PM

Care for the Caregiver Workshop

Saturday, 08/03/2024 at 8:30 AM - 3:30 PM

GROWING UP CATHOLIC | Parenting as devotion to Christ

Caryll Houselander was never a biological mother. Rather, she was an unmarried, eccentric spiritual writer who delighted in how unique human beings can be. She writes, “I truly believe that the best way to benefit humanity is to make faces in the bus — slightly mad faces, or puttings out of the tongue suddenly at the person opposite…Then they can tell everyone for weeks that they saw a mad woman on the bus…” This is a woman with a unique perspective.

She brings her insight to her book, “The Reed of God.” Written in England during World War II, the book manages to exude maternal comfort during a dark time with her meditations on Mother Mary. Clearly, Houselander is a spiritual mother to all who read her books.

This is why, as a father of six children, I return to her repeatedly for parenting advice. There are (many) times when I question my ability as a father. It’s easy to make believe I am the patriarch of a loving brood of handsome children. In my imagination, the boys have side parts in their pomaded hair. They wear suits and ties all the time and hold the door open for their sisters. They hug their mother. The girls have flowers in their hair and dote on their poor old father. They bake me cookies and bring me slippers and a book when I arrive home at night.

My children are some of these things some of the time. Most of the time, however, they’re real children.

They refuse to brush their teeth at bedtime, scream-sing annoying songs from the backseat of the van and question our parenting decisions with shocking eagerness. This is when parenting becomes real. It isn’t a daydream. Our children are flesh and blood, real people with unique personalities and desires all their own.

In “The Reed of God,” Houselander points out that, “Christ is in our own family … it is He whom we foster in our children.” When I love my child, even when I don’t feel like it, I love not only my specific child, but I also love Christ in my child. She continues, “When you play a game with your little son … you play a game with the Christ Child.”

I’m learning to look for Christ not only in the best moments in our family life. I’m looking for Him in my children exactly as they are, for better or worse. I look for Christ among the messy dishes, amid the sound of ceaseless wiggling in the pews during Mass, in tired eyes and cranky meltdowns. He’s always there.

I’m far from a perfect father but, every once in a while, I manage to take a deep breath and recognize in my child that irreplaceable spark, the image of the living God that is playing out in their different faces. I recall how eccentric Houselander was, how she appreciated all sorts of different people, and I can’t help but be grateful for the precious souls God has granted me the privilege to welcome under my roof. It’s an invitation to Christ Himself.

Father Michael Rennier is vice-rector of the Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine. A former Anglican priest, he was ordained in 2016 under a pastoral provision. He and his wife, Amber, have six children.

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