I recently overheard a conversation that got me to thinking. The conversation was between my brother-in-law and my seven year old son. My brother-in-law is a very well educated, very intellectual man who has no children of his own, and very little opportunity to spend time with children. We only see him once every few years or so. Yet, he is fabulous with my own kids and talks to them as though he truly cares what they think. Listening to him and my son chat was truly fascinating.
The conversation started as all the adults in the room talked about politics and religion. We, grown-ups, had been discussing the upcoming election and the place that religion plays in our voting decisions. Somehow, my brother-in-law and my seven year old started some sort of a discussion of their own. I did not hear the whole conversation but here’s what I heard--
My brother-in-law asked my son, “When you think of yourself, as a person,” at this he pointed at my son, gently touching his little chest right where his heart is and he looked him in the eye, “when you think of yourself, do you consider yourself to be first an American or first a Catholic?”
My son answered without even the slightest hesitation. “First a Catholic,” he proudly proclaimed.
I realized, though it was only a fraction of a second, that I had been holding my breath wondering what answer my young son might have. I suppose I should not have wondered, our faith is a part of ALL we do, it is who we are. Still, it was a reassuring to hear that my son, even at the tender age of seven, recognizes that his Catholic faith is the most important thing. It was very cool to hear him answer the question so quickly and so easily.
I’m not sure my son has ever had a conversation about his faith or beliefs before. At his age, there just aren’t a lot of people who ask him what he believes or thinks. His faith has always been the faith of his parents, but when his uncle asked, he immediately spoke up- he is a Catholic and that comes first.
Later, Tim and I talked about how we were both impressed by our son. We do not know what the future holds, and let’s be honest, there have been events in our country recently that do not bode well for us Catholics. Tim and I recognize that it is possible that things may happen that cause us to stop calling ourselves Americans, but we will never renounce or be willing to part with our Catholicism. If ever we move, if ever our country falls, if ever our life as we know it changes- one thing will not change ever. We are Catholic, first and foremost. What peace it gives us to know, our children understand that as well.