In looking back, I recall snippets of the process that stick with me. A friend at Franciscan University gently chiding me not to make fun of Marian devotion. Years later, Scott Hahn giving me my first rosary. A priest welcoming us to the RCIA group at our local parish. Friends praying for us, consoling us, and encouraging us.
The common denominator: just like Blessed John Paul, these individuals gave of themselves and honored Kathi and me.
In practical terms, this is what the Pope often referred to as the “gift of self.”
Interestingly enough, this concept is precisely what gives rise to the multiplier effect — a concept I first learned in economics class. Our marriage, and our faith, led to our eight children. “Go forth and multiply,” indeed.
The multiplier effect will continue through our children, God willing. It will also give rise to spiritual children for the Lord.
We have never kept count, but that single encounter with Blessed John Paul gave rise to at least a dozen Catholics in our immediate family alone. So far.
That doesn’t count others we have encouraged or sponsored to become Catholic over the years, nor those they have touched in turn.
The gift of self results in children for God, and Blessed John Paul modeled this approach beautifully.
He liked to quote Vatican II’s “Gaudium et Spes,” which says “Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for himself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self."
Thanks, Blessed John Paul, for your gift of self to my family. With God’s grace, we’ll do our best to follow your example.