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Spiritually Healthy Children View Comments
By Alicia von Stamwitz

DURING ART CLASS one day, a first-grade teacher noticed that one child was particularly engrossed in his drawing. She eventually wandered over and asked the child, “What are you drawing?”

“God,” he said, without looking up from his paper. The teacher said carefully, “But no one really knows what God looks like.”

“They will in a second!” he said.

I love this story because it captures something we all appreciate, but few of us think to nurture: the spiritual vitality and imagination of young children.

Most parents are keenly aware of their children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. We record our children’s height with pencil marks on the kitchen wall and note milestones in photo albums and scrapbooks. We monitor their health and celebrate their achievements. As they grow older, we track their academic progress.

But how many of us track our children’s spiritual health and development?

In some ways, former generations had it easier. Spirituality was equated with religious practice. Those days are gone.

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Alicia von Stamwitz studied early childhood education at Tufts University in Massachusetts and journalism and communication at Washington University in St. Louis. She has taught middle school and preschool students and worked for Liguori Publications for 27 years. She is now an independent consultant and freelance author.

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Martha: Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death. 
<p>No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner. </p><p>Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a). </p><p>Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).</p> American Catholic Blog One of the difficulties we may have when our lives become unmanageable is that we find dealing with other people to be difficult and we may even struggle to maintain a relationship with God. Caring people especially can find themselves carrying unnecessary crosses as they become lost in the maze of trying to meet everyone’s crazy expectations—including their own!

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