Kathy Perusek encourages parents to teach their children about sacrificing for souls.
As I write this article it is Good Friday, a day when I ponder the unimaginable love of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who became a man, entering our fallen, miserable world, suffered horrible tortures and an ignominious death, on our behalf, to open the way for us to heaven.
Catholics have a tradition of meditating on the four last things: death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell. We want to live with our eternal destiny in mind, in such a way to be worthy disciples of Jesus. We are just passing through this world, which is not our true home. Jesus gave us clear instructions about what He expects of us. In the parable of the rich man, who was successful growing his crops, and decided to tear down his barns and build bigger barns, we read:
And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods, laid up for many years, take thy rest; eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him: “Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul from thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.” (Luke 12:19-21, Douay- Rheims Bible)
It seems just yesterday that I was a small child, then a mother, busy, raising small children. Such is the fleetingness of life. I still remember Bible stories my mother read to me, including Jesus’ death and resurrection, and how He raised people from the dead! I remember on Good Friday; our family tradition was to have complete silence from 12 PM to 3 PM that day. It was so hard for me to sit still for that long. Yet that made an impression on me, fifty-some years later: there is something very sacred and special about this day!
I tried to lead my children to a saving knowledge of Jesus, and our Catholic Faith, passed on to us from the Apostles. From the time they were little, I read them stories from the Bible, as well as stories of the saints and martyrs. We always had a crucifix in a prominent place in our home. At first, I cringed when recounting the violent ways the martyrs died, yet I knew that I must teach them that this Faith of ours is so great, it is worth dying for. I taught them about Purgatory, Heaven and Hell. Many parents may not want to scare children by telling them about Hell. I think this is a big mistake, because it is very real, as is Heaven, and we would not want our worst enemy to go there.
We don’t give children enough credit. Properly teaching them about the reasons why a person would go to Purgatory, Heaven or Hell, and how to strive for Heaven and avoid Hell, about the importance of frequenting the Sacraments, will encourage them to do so. Jesus’ own Mother, Mary, who, in 1917, appeared as Our Lady of Fatima, in Portugal, to three children, Lucia, age 10, Francisco, age 9, and Jacinta, age 7, and showed them a frightful vision of Hell.
“You have seen Hell, where the souls of poor sinners go.” Mary instructed them: “Sacrifice yourselves for sinners; and say often, especially when you make some sacrifice: ‘O my Jesus, it is for love of Thee, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer this sacrifice for Thee.’” (The True Story of Fatima, John De Marchi, I.M.C. The Fatima Center)
Mary also asked them to pray the Rosary, especially together, with their families. Life is a spiritual battlefield, and the Rosary is one of the greatest weapons in the spiritual realm. By praying the Rosary as a family, we reap spiritual rewards. The children took Mary’s words to heart, prayed their Rosaries, and offered many sacrifices for poor sinners. Jacinta and Francisco died, from the Spanish Influenza, a couple years after the apparitions, and they offered up all the pains and sufferings of their illness and death (The True Story of Fatima, John De Marchi, I.M.C. The Fatima Center). They have since been canonized as saints!
This practice of offering up our sufferings is found in the Bible as well:
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church. (Colossians 1:24, Douay- Rheims Bible)
As our country becomes more secularized, now, more than ever, our children need solid instruction in the Faith. I would encourage young parents to seriously consider home schooling, so they can control what is being taught to their children. As the priest prays at Baptism, parents are the first teachers in the ways of Faith, may they be the best of teachers! I pray we all take our duties very seriously, to pass on the true, not watered-down, Catholic Faith! Our children’s eternal destiny depends on it.
How will remembering my own death help me to live my life and raise my children with an eternal perspective?
Copyright 2021 Kathy Perusek
Images (from top): Canva Pro; all others copyright 2021 Kathy Perusek
About the Author
Kathy Perusek is a mother of seven children, and a grandmother. She was a stay-at-home mom until her oldest child graduated college. Kathy then returned to school, earning associate degrees in nursing and arts. She worked as an RN in a hospital, then for hospice; currently, she works in a pediatric practice. She is a former La Leche League leader and enjoys reading, singing, and babysitting.