One of the titles in our new fall lineup, Sharing Our Story: How Grandparents Today Pass on the Catholic Faith, explores the practical, emotional and spiritual ways that grandparents (and all elders in the faith community) can guide the faith journey of the younger generation through reflection and shared activities. Follow along as we, the Novalis team, documents the spiritual influences of our grandparents.
“My maternal grandmother, Stefania, was not a woman of many words. Her faith was strong, but she was not particularly vocal about it. Her faith tended to show itself in the kindness and generosity towards others that she often lived out in her day-to-day life.
One example from my early childhood easily comes to mind. A man and a woman once showed up on our doorstep in the middle of a stormy day. They came from the nearby bus terminal. I am not sure what kind of words were exchanged at that point, but what I do clearly remember is seeing my grandmother warmly welcoming them into the house. She quickly got them clean, dry clothes to change into and prepared a delicious meal for them. The house filled with aroma that I remember to this day. After they had eaten, she sent them to one of our bedrooms to get some rest from their journey. And while they slept, she laundered their clothes, dried and ironed them to be ready for when the guests were to set off on their way to complete their journey.
I doubt my grandmother realized in the moment just how closely I was observing the situation and the depth of an impression that it would have upon me to this very day. Her generous welcome of these travelling strangers spoke volumes about what she understood hospitality to be. At times like these, I wished to one day grow up to be like her.
At age ten, when I emigrated from Ukraine to Canada, we remained in contact mainly through letters. Later, during my teenage years, her health was deteriorating quickly and I journeyed back to see her. We had an opportunity to spend some time together, but as I was heading back to the airport, I sat down next to her on the bed to say goodbye and in that moment I knew that this was going to be the last time that I see her. Sure enough, two weeks later she had passed away.
She may not have been the one who taught me the prayers I know today. But her life and daily example were what touched my heart most deeply. My hope today is that I can live the kind of example for my kids that will inspire them to pursue goodness in their own lives, as she did for me.
While no longer physically present in our lives today, my grandmother’s memory remains fully alive in the lives of her great-grandchildren. My niece, Stephanie, was given her name in my grandmother’s honour. And a little while later, my son selected my grandmother’s birthday for his own.”
By Natalia Kononenko, Editor of Living with Christ