How do we pass on the beauty of our faith and values to the next generation?

Sometimes we think we need to come up with just the right words. Maybe we worry about what to say next, even while the other person is still talking.  Or we get frustrated and talk louder.

Let us look to St. Joseph as a model — a teacher who teaches without saying a word.

A good teacher models what he or she teaches. A few years ago, a young priest came to our church and gave a homily that stuck with me. He preached on the idea that we become like our parents, our leaders and those we spend time with.  As children, sometimes we say we don’t want to be like our parents. Inevitably we end up sharing many of their traits, both good and bad.

St. Joseph, as head of the Holy Family, modeled behavior of how to be a good man, a good person.

Being pro-life sometimes means we are misunderstood. I wonder if St. Joseph encountered a similar misunderstanding when it was found Mary was with child. If people gossiped about Mary, I wonder if he felt protective; did he have to fight against the temptation to be angry with them and to want to “set the record straight?”

It is difficult to be misunderstood or vilified. We fight on two fronts: our reluctance to take a public stand and the negative idea of what we are.

When some people learn you are pro-life, some agree, some disagree, some respond with anger. At that moment our response means everything.

We look to St. Joseph’s example of quiet. When people despise you, respond with gentleness.

We are challenged to act in a way that conveys a message of hope. We are called to seek out the lost, to give hope to the hopeless.

We know we have the truth; we are trying to help save souls, bring them home to Jesus. We have a treasure so precious that we must share it with others. How could someone not want this? Yet they are deceived, and we are shunned, disliked for going against a perceived right to choose.

How do we pass on the beauty of our faith and values to the next generation? Our actions speak louder than our words. Let us stop talking and using words to tear down people on the other side of the argument — even those who hurt us or promote the unthinkable.

Let us trust that the Lord is in charge.

We look to St. Joseph. He put the needs of two people ahead of everything else. He remained quietly hidden in the background of the lives of Jesus and Mary. He trusted with a father’s loving heart.

— Phyllis Harkonen is respect life coordinator for the Diocese of Burlington.

—Originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.