“In the case of children, the only work required is that of planting, whereas adults require both weeding and planting. There is yet another advantage: grownups are often won over by the little ones, and parents are won over by their children because children are like so many pieces of their parents’ hearts. When the children receive a little holy card for their attendance and diligence, their parents and other adults read them at home out of curiosity, and this often results in their conversion, as I know from experience.”(Aut 275).
GUILE FOR GOOD
Often, evangelization today is lost in a forest of analysis, options and priorities. Claret understood well the words of Jesus: ‘the kingdom of God belongs to such as these children’ (Mk 10:14). He believed in children as the good soil that receives the Word of God and also as evangelizers of adults.
The lived experiences in the first years of our infancy mark us for ever. Planting the seed of faith in a child means introducing the person to the experience of radical trust, of knowing himself to be unconditionally loved by God. This ‘seed’ will continue bearing fruit all through life. The child is the good soul that receives the seed of faith. His simple heart, free of prejudices, is spontaneously in tune with the source of life. Claret invites us to take great care with the transmission of the faith to children, without being taken with the myth that only adults are able to believe, as if the faith were ‘only’ a mere option among others and not, above all, an experience of grace that is received undeservedly.
Again, a child who lives his filial relationship with God with happiness and simplicity is converted into an evangelizer of his parents, not so much through his words but rather through the trust in life that he transmits. The observation of Claret is also interesting on this point. Sometimes the catechetical materials prepared for children, as also happens with liturgical celebrations prepared with children in mind, are, by their simplicity and freshness, the ones that reach out more to the adults, often lost in the complications of life. In a culture of distrust and suspicion, the faith of a child helps us to restore our basic trust in God, without which life cannot be built nor the gift of faith grasped.