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Do you ever wonder if the seeds of faith you plant in your children are taking root? Jake Frost describes the moment when those seeds bore fruit in his family.

We’re blessed to have a lot of great churches in our area. For our Sunday Mass we like to rotate between them, roaming about to enjoy each, and we’ve built up little family rituals for the various churches we visit, mostly “calf-path” phenomenon.


The Calf-Path 

One day through the primeval wood 
A calf walked home as good calves should; 
But made a trail all bent askew, 
A crooked trail as all calves do. 

Since then three hundred years have fled, 
And I infer the calf is dead. 

 But still he left behind his trail, 
And thereby hangs my moral tale. 

The trail was taken up next day, 
By a lone dog that passed that way; 

And then a wise bell-wether sheep 
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep, 

And drew the flock behind him, too, 
As good bell-wethers always do. 

And from that day, o'er hill and glade. 
Through those old woods a path was made. 
And many men wound in and out, 
And dodged, and turned, and bent about, 

* * * 

But still they followed—do not laugh— 
The first migrations of that calf, 

And through this winding wood-way stalked 
Because he wobbled when he walked. 
This forest path became a lane, 
that bent and turned and turned again; 

* * * 

The years passed on in swiftness fleet, 
The road became a village street; 

And this, before men were aware, 
A city's crowded thoroughfare. 

And soon the central street was this 
Of a renowned metropolis; 

And men two centuries and a half, 
Trod in the footsteps of that calf. 
* * * 

But how the wise old wood gods laugh, 
Who saw the first primeval calf. 


Sam Foss, Public Domain 


Such are our steeple-circuit traditions, mostly the result of happenstance that’s stuck, but they’re fun nonetheless! 

For one church, the first time we went there for mass we stopped at a local store on our way home and found they had great corn. So when our minivan wends its way thus-ward, a stop for produce is part of the program. 




My favorite visit is to a beautiful old brick church from the 1800s with tall pillars, statues, stars pained on the ceiling, stained-glass windows, ornately carved confessionals—the works. Plus great music, an amazing collection of relics, and pizza! Well, not at the church, but the in the town nearby.   

It’s Saint Michael’s in Stillwater, a town built on bluffs along the St. Croix River. If we go to St. Michael’s on a Saturday, the whole family can go to Confession first and then we have time to walk around town before Mass (including “secret passage” stairs that go from the cliff-tops down to the river front—they’re not really secret, they’re public walkways, but they feel like adventure!). And then after Mass we stop to get some of the best pizza in the region. It makes for a great Saturday evening!  

This week we had St. Michael’s on the schedule, and I was looking forward to it!   

But then my 10-year-old son had the temerity to ask for a change of plans!   


Click to tweet:
Sometimes parenting feels like the proverbial seed-sower Jesus talked about: you wonder if the seeds you’re trying to sow in your kids’ hearts and minds are reaching fertile ground. #CatholicMom


Another church around us has a priest with a strong devotion to Blessed Solanus Casey (who was born and raised in this area along the Saint Croix River Valley on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota). The priest makes regular trips to Blessed Solanus Casey’s tomb in Detroit. The church has a relic of Blessed Solanus Casey and the priest put a prayer box next to it. People are welcome to write down prayer intentions on slips of paper and leave them in the box. Father then takes the box with him when he goes to Detroit and leaves the prayer petitions at Blessed Solaus Casey’s tomb.   




Talking with this priest outside church one day, he relayed that several miracles have been attributed to these prayer slips, including a cancer cure and a cure of eczema.   

Blessed Solanus Casey was a Capuchin Friar and suffered from eczema himself. He is known as a healer and miracle worker.   

All of our kids have had eczema, but one of my son’s younger siblings is particularly troubled by it.   

Well, my son who asked if he could upset my best-laid pizza-plans must have been listening, because he asked if we could go to the Blessed Solanus Casey church so he could leave a prayer petition for his sibling to be cured of eczema.   

Needless to say, old calf-paths, no matter how pleasant, were readily abandoned to accommodate such a request.     

Sometimes parenting feels like the proverbial seed-sower Jesus talked about: you wonder if the seeds you’re trying to sow in your kids’ hearts and minds are reaching fertile ground.   

Occasionally, when you find that they’ve taken root, the first fruits of the harvest are sweet. 



Copyright 2023 Jake Frost
Images: Bl. Solanus Casey statue by Nheyob, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; all others Canva