It's been brought home to me lately how much I owe my parents for their careful attention to my religious upbringing and education.
We had dinner Saturday night with blogger Jennifer F. and her husband (see here for her description of our coolness), both of whom are in the process of entering the Church. Over the course of various and wide-ranging conversation, they remarked several times on how fortunate we were to have families that were so committed to giving us a strong religious and moral foundations. Having been brought up without the early moral training that Darwin and I both received, they were able to give us a new perspective on something we too often take for granted.
I've always felt that I was very fortunate to be brought up as a Catholic and to be well-instructed in my faith. But too often that gratitude is overshadowed by nit-picking the way things were done when I was growing up, or by criticisms of the way my parents handled married life and certain personal problems. My parents divorced when I was 21, and part of my own married relationship is influenced by a desire to avoid the mistakes they made. And I have -- because my good judgment was influenced by the moral precepts and solid reasoning behind the Catholic teachings my parents handed on to me.
The oldest parlor game in the book is matching up parental defects with their offspring's grievances. I'm guilty of playing it myself. And yet any wrongs my parents may have done me by being less than perfect are so far outweighed by all their hard work to ensure that my siblings and I really understood our faith, and all their sacrifices so that we might live in an environment where that faith was loved and respected and lived authentically. As a result, all six of their children are committed Catholics, and two of my brothers are considering the priesthood. That's a legacy to be admired.
Hearing Jennifer and her husband talk about their conversion process and regretting decisions that would have been different if they'd been given a strong religious and moral foundation early, I realized how blessed I've been to have had my Catholicism influence my entire life, guiding my choices and preserving me from the effects of my own unaided floundering.