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One question leads to more on sharing faith

A few weeks ago, my 8-year-old grandson - Eli - called for some advice from Grandpa. Knowing he'll reach a point when he thinks he knows it all and won't seek advice from any adult, I treasured the moment.

Eli, however, wasn't calling to pick Grandpa's brain. He wanted the advice of a deacon ... and Grandpa turns out to be the only deacon he knows.

Regardless of his motive, though, I was willing to help.

"Why does Jesus keep offering himself in the Eucharist?" asked Eli, who soon will be receiving his first Communion.

I could have turned to the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" or any one of several books on the Eucharist at home and at work, but I opted to go with the basics, nothing profound, nothing requiring a listing of sources, nothing especially theological.

"Because he loves you so much," I answered.

"Because he loves me so much," Eli said. "Thanks, Grandpa."

And before I could continue with just a little more of an explanation, he handed the phone to his mother. That was it ... my moment to evangelize my grandson had come and gone.

He needed to answer that question as part of his first Communion preparation at his parish in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and what I intended to be the start of my reply was enough for Eli.

That exchange, however, reminded me of how often we have a chance to evangelize - share the faith - with our children. Eli is the start of another generation of faith for our family, and his first Communion will be a special moment for his parents and one that brings joy to his grandparents.

Eli is one of thousands of youngsters receiving first Communion this spring. At churches across the country, parents, family and friends gather to share in the faith moment.

But what about the day after first Communion ... the weeks ... the years until confirmation? And the years beyond? While we celebrate the faith milestones - baptism, first Communion and confirmation - it's the time in between those milestones that can make a difference in faith.

Eli's question made me take a look in the mirror. How did I share the faith with our children? What am I doing for our grandchildren? But I'm probably not alone in my need for a little self reflection. Perhaps we all need to look at what we're doing to share the faith. The new evangelism of the church might include a variety of parish and archdiocesan programs, but evangelism certainly can and should start at home ... with parents, grandparents and other family members.

How do we model our faith for the next generation? Do we attend Mass? Do we pray as individuals and as a family? Do we study our faith and seek to grow in our relationship with God? And just as important, is our faith reflected in how we live - in our relationships, in our work, in our community life? Is love for God and love for neighbor evident in our lives?

Those might be tough questions for some of us to answer ... something we might not even want to consider. But it's great preparation for some questions that might seem even more daunting - the ones we get from 8-year-olds preparing for first Communion.

Deacon Randy A. Grosse is general manager of the Catholic Voice and can be contacted at ragrosse@archomaha.org.

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