To my son, Timothy, my daughter, Laney, and any and all subsequent children the Lord should bless us with,
With any luck, by the time you’re each of the age when everything in this letter will truly matter to you, I’ll have done my job as a good Catholic father, and the two of you will have grown into faithful, devout Catholics, followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, and confirmed by His Holy Catholic Church.
Hopefully my own downfalls as a human, my sins, and my faults will be minimal. Hopefully you’ll see very little of my imperfections, and for what you do see, I hope you’ll please forgive me for them.
And though I wish your life to be full of joy, though I want you to always remember your father as a happy man, one who was always there, who loved you unconditionally, and who worked hard to provide for you and keep you safe, the one thing I truly hope you see in me is the struggle for salvation.
I’m sure that sounds odd. Out of all the things I could pick for you to see in my walk with Jesus Christ, I choose the struggle. But that’s because the last thing in the world I ever want you to believe is the idea that salvation is a one-and-done deal. I can’t speak for others, but for Catholics, salvation is an ongoing process. It is something we must constantly work at until the day our heart stops beating and we face the Father.
And I say these things to you — not to discourage you, but to encourage you — because God understands.
Christ knew the struggles we would face on our journey to Heaven, and that’s why he gave us the Church. There is secular temptation at every turn. We will fall. We will doubt. We will question. We will feel like giving up. And that’s why he gave us the Sacraments, so we can have assurance. So we have something of which we can physically cling.
When we are Baptized, we are literally washed clean in the name of God.
When we are confirmed, we are blessed and anointed as witnesses to the Gospel and deepen our devotion to God.
When we take the Eucharist, we accept the literal presence of Christ into our bodies.
When we confess our sins in Reconciliation, we can leave with the absolute knowledge that we have been forgiven.
When we celebrate the joyous Sacrament of Marriage, we bind ourselves to a partner with whom we walk the same path together.
Or, for those chosen to celebrate the Sacrament of Ordination, their hands are blessed to do the work of God.
And through the Anointing of the Sick and Last Rites, we accept the Grace of the Father to lead us through our pains, and prepare us to finally be in his presence.
The path of salvation that lies before you is not a smooth one, and to complicate matters, you will be told by Protestant friends that you can’t “work for” or “earn” your salvation. They will tell you that all you need to do is walk to the front of the church, give your heart to Jesus, and then float through life with confidence that you are saved. Many a cradle Catholic have been led down that path, and I don’t want to see it happen to you. Every single step you take on your path to salvation is a testament to your devotion to God. Every one. So, I ask you to embrace the Church, and find comfort in her teachings.
Your walk with God will be filled with joy and beauty, love and peace, but there will also be struggles, and they will be many. And it is during those times that you turn to the Church and lean on her.
I love you all so much.