Another summer is gone.
Soon, students everywhere will be immersing themselves in all kinds of subjects, from math and science to English and art, and everything in between, as their teachers help prepare them for their futures. But for the students of our diocese, there’s an even more important subject – that of the faith, as the seeds planted with their baptism continue to be nurtured.
In the Gospel reading for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time a few weekends back, we heard Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, share the Parable of the Sower with the crowd standing along the shore:
“‘A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.”
The formation of our youth in the faith is paramount for the future of the Church. Throughout his papacy, Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of this formation starting in the home.
“Families are the domestic Church, where Jesus grows; He grows in the love of spouses, He grows in the lives of children. That is why the enemy so often attacks the family. The devil does not want the family; he tries to destroy it, to make sure that there is no love there,” Pope Francis stated in a 2014 address to participants of the 37th National Convocation of the Renewal in the Holy Spirit. “Married couples are sinners, like us all, but they want to go forward in faith, in fruitfulness, in their children and their children’s faith. May the Lord bless families and strengthen them in this time of crisis when the devil is seeking to destroy them.”
But just like with any other subject that we’re taught, the more people that work to nurture those seeds, the more fruitful they will become.
That’s why the Church partners with parents to bring the teachings of the faith to children, tending to the soil where the seeds have been planted.
While the Diocese of Nashville has nearly 20 options to bring those teachings to students daily through the 16 diocesan and three private schools, for many families spread out across the 38 counties, there isn’t a convenient option available. Religious education programs at the diocese’s 60 churches step in to fill that gap.
Seeds are being sown and the soil is being tilled.
Various programs in the diocese continue that as well with such opportunities as SEARCH or the recent Totus Tuus summer program brought to 14 churches across the diocese, as well as vacation bible school programs at a host of churches. Youth from first through 12th grade, including even some non-Catholics, spend time learning about how they are called to holiness.
Seeds are being sown, and the soil is being tilled.
“Hear then the parable of the sower,” Jesus tells the apostles in Matthew’s gospel. “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no roots and lasts only for a time. … The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit.”
Parents, realize the role and responsibility you have to fulfill those promises made on behalf of your child when you asked that they be baptized in the faith. Take advantage of the partnership and support you have with the Church, which will help to nurture the seeds you first planted in your children so they continue to grow. For the seed that falls and is sown on rich soil will bear the fruits of the Gospel.