"As I walked about, inspecting everything, I suddenly saw a crowd of children who seemed to be no older than five to eleven years of age. When they saw me they surrounded me and began to cry out, "Defend us from evil," and they led me into the chapel which was in this convent. When I entered the chapel, I saw the distressful Lord Jesus. Jesus looked at me graciously and said that He was gravely offended by children: You are to defend them from evil. From that moment, I have been praying for children, but I feel that prayer alone is not enough." ~Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska
Thunder cracked like the end of the world. Now fully awake from a deep sleep, my mind went to my five babies sleeping upstairs. Babies? Physically that's not right and yet, to me, they always will be. I wasn't worried about the safety of their bodies in the storm, but instead, I was concerned about the safety of their souls. The local news has been filled with the story of two young girls who attempted to brutally murder a classmate and my heart has been heavy with the horror of it. I worry about the influence of peer pressure upon my teens and young adults and how they have to deal with so many difficult situations in the world today. The burden of raising children to be holy in a world gone astray is certainly the greatest challenge of parenting today, and perhaps always has been. I began to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. "Have mercy upon us and upon the whole world," I repeated over and over again until I fell back asleep.
Yesterday, when my children were babies, I heeded the advice to "lower my standards" and tried not to stress over the often dirty house, substandard meals lacking nutritional value and the lack of sleep all new moms endured. I just tried to enjoy my family in the moment knowing that time would pass all too soon and they would be all grown up.
In the past 20 years, since God first made me a mother, I have been continually lowering my standards for cleanliness, health, education and finances, and perhaps several other standards as well. I'm working on giving up my dreams for my children and gradually am coming to accept the fact that they have dreams of their own to sort out and chase.
But I can never lower my standards for their souls. I can never lose vigilance in my prayers for them. I take St. Monica as an example and pray for her perseverance hoping that I will have the courage to follow after my children whenever they go astray, and gently, lovingly, bring them back to the straight and narrow path toward sanctity. I know that my own mother had done the same for me, and now with love, I carry the torch for holiness in my prayers for my own children.
O Lord, my God, I beg of you to grant the gift of holiness to my children. May their daily lives be filled with prayer, and may their daily actions glorify You in all things. Lead my husband and I to holiness, too. Don't let our sinfulness become an obstacle to the sanctity to which my children are called. May we be a witness to the joy that fills one's soul from serving You alone. Let this request be the high standard that will never be lowered, the prayer above all prayers that You, my God, will see fit to answer. Amen.