I plant seeds for a living. Every plant I’ve ever watered has died. People give away dead and dying plants to my husband Tom and he resurrects them like they were Lazarus. Me? Put a plant in my charge and it will turn brown.
But I plant seeds, none the less. I don’t sow seeds of flowers in soil. I sow seeds of faith in the souls of our children.
Like many mothers, I’m planting all day. I’m called to guide these children by my (perish the thought) good example. My life revolves around a string of advice and reminders which I repeat often and over like mantras:
“Do unto others…”
“Pray for them…”
“Offer it u….”
“Trust in God…
“It builds character…”
“Please pick that up…”
“It will work out…”
“Mary will help you…
“Do your best…”
“What you did is a sin…”
“Clean your room…”
“Do your chores…”
And when all else fails:
“Because I said so…”
I scatter unending seeds of guidance, consolation, encouragement, support, discipline, admonishment and sometimes frustration.
Our children surprise me. They grow in ways I think they can’t. They fail to grow in ways I think they should. They hear me not only when they want to, but sometimes when they don’t. They understand things I thought they couldn’t comprehend. They fail to comprehend what I thought they ought. But by God’s grace, I keep sowing seeds.
Sometimes it seems no seeds are taking root. Then it’s time for math. If three seeds of faith are planted each day, that’s 1,092 seeds a year per child. Of 1,092 seeds a year, how many will take root? Only God knows. Some of them will, surely. I plant with faith, nourish with hope and guide in charity. At least I try.
Seed scattering is done nightly by reading. Seed scattering from books is easy. I don’t have to be smart. The Church provides pre-packaged scattering seeds. They can be tossed about. Every night we sit down as a family and sow seeds of faith from four Catholic gems: the Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Diary of Saint Faustina, Lives of the Saints, and Scripture. The readings are not long, just long enough to sow a seed from each book as food for thought, and sometimes discussion.
Seeds are sown from the Baltimore Catechism in the form of drills. Over the years, I’ve perfected quite a sergeant-like flair for Catechism drilling. Each child is drilled on two questions per night. It’s called, “One new, one review.” That means every night each child is drilled on one question he or she knows, and one that he or she does not. If a child can memorize one question per week, 52 seeds will be planted in a year. Catechism drilling has become a game that starts right after dinner, with our rosary. Heaven forbid we forget to sow one of these “one new, one review” seeds. The protest will come: “Hey, that’s not fair, I didn’t get my new one.” How do we track all those seeds? It’s easy. I use a pencil. I write in the Baltimore Catechism book an initial for each child next to each question, with a plus if they know the answer (the seed was planted), and a minus if they don’t (the seed fell on rocks). Sometimes I drill Tom. Sometimes the children drill me. They get a big kick out of that, especially when my answer is wrong.
I am a coupon-clipping failure. Mail presents a significant paperwork challenge for me, let alone coupon “effective” and “expiration” dates. But there’s delight in my coupon-clipping failure as that failure sent me looking for another use for my coupon-clipping holder. And that is how a most remarkable discovery was stumbled upon. Coupon holders the small ones with enough slots for the days of the week are great family prayer holders. When combined with index cards, they’re a prayer planter’s Godsend. “She’s mean,” says one of my daughters, speaking of a friend turned bully. “Let’s pray for her,” I say, writing the offending child’s name on an index card and putting it in Monday’s slot. The offending child is now guaranteed prayers every Monday. With a Father like ours, in no time at all, the girls may be best buddies.
Inside our coupon holder there are prayers for vocations on Monday, religious sisters on Tuesday, an end to abortion on Wednesday, the souls who have no one to pray for them on Thursday, the souls in purgatory on Friday, priests on Saturday and the elderly on Sunday. With six people in our family, everyone gets an index card with his or her name on it and thus has a specific day of the week when he or she is especially prayed for. With the coupon holder/index card method now we can manage over 10 intercessory prayers a day before we pray our rosary. That totals 70 different prayers umm… seeds a week.
My job is in planting. My Master’s the Father. I work for Him. Our merciful Father doesn’t require results. That will happen in His time, in His way and by His design. He only asks for His will to be done. He asks me to go about my day sowing seeds in blind faith. Each flower grows in accord with the Father’s plan, not in accord with mine. He only wants me to plant. There is joy in the planting. When I stand before God at the end of my days perhaps He will ask what I did for Him. At times I think that there will be nothing to show but a stockpile of seeds. If I show Him my seeds, perhaps then He’ll show me His flowers.
© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange
Mary Anne Moresco writes from Howell, New Jersey.