The summer I was 5 years old I briefly played the part of an angel when three other girls and I led a group of children down the aisle at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church to make their First Holy Communion.
Unexpectedly I was chosen to play the part, because one of the angels got sick that week. This was an extra special event for me as I was the youngest in my Catholic summer school class.
I remember walking down the church aisle feeling uplifted, close to God.
In retrospect this was a turning point for me in my devotion to God. Just 2 months later I entered elementary school and on Sundays eventually began studying the Baltimore catechism, where the first lesson was to know, love and serve God in this world.
I read early because as a toddler and preschooler my mother read many Little Golden Books to me, which I memorized.
The words I learned enabled me to read other stories by myself, and I especially loved my books of children’s prayers. To this day I can see the book illustrations in my mind.
Beginning with playing the part of an angel, my focus turned to God in a broader way, expanding to caring and kindness for others as well as really wanting to know God. It was my joy.
By age 8 I was saying a complete rosary before going to sleep at night, with the intention that it be for the soul in purgatory who needed it the most. I kept my rosary under my pillow and said the prayers after going to bed. This devotional practice was my own idea.
From remembering these early experiences I encourage parents to give children opportunities to develop devotion for God: Read uplifting books to your kids. And, it is never too early to encourage children to express the joy of God they can feel for themselves by being kind to others. Even taking care of a pet is a way to give kids an opportunity to care.
Uplifting prayers, songs and dance instill a spiritual joy that only gets stronger over the years.
When times are rough spiritual communion with God provides solace that comforts and consoles. What we learn early in life we automatically fall back on. Within each of us is our immortal link with the Divine.