During my sojourn in this rough part of the English Cotswolds, I have been reflecting with the other priests on the Second Letter of Paul to Timothy. In the first chapter of that letter, there is mention of two ladies - Lois and Eunice. One was mum and the other was grandma to Timothy, and between them, it is claimed, they nurtured little Timmy in the faith. Excellent.
Now some of you may have picked up on the fact that Mrs Acular and I are blessed by the perfect curly gifts that are our children - otherwise known in these parts as the Twins Aculae. They are bright little buttons, able to drive with a high degree of competency the greatest of Steve Jobs' brainchildren, and also able to engage with deep and profound theologies. No, I am not referring to the poncy theologies you find in books and through which bespectacled geezers have made a living - I am talking about the mighty questions of life under God. Jurgen Moltmann has nothing on my kids.
During our considerations concerning Two Timmy, I found myself pondering again something that niggles me - an unresolved matter that I haven't even discussed with the lady of the house. I speak of the direct spiritual nurture of my own children.
Part of me has always held firm to the notion that I am called first to be a husband, next to be a dad and then to be a priest. Mixing those things up is a perilous matter, and a matter I seek to avoid. That meant that I did not evangelise my wife before she confessed faith for herself, that as her husband, that was not my job, (and that had I tried, I would have been the recipient of a swift kick in the family jewels). The kids are at an age where this is a poignant matter once again: how to raise my children as Christians all the while not being the vicar, but being dad. In that, there is a distinction.
As I write this, I have no formulated view. Some may say that it is my Christian duty, and my priestly duty, to embody at home what I expect of my punters. However, in the back of my mind, I am aware of two things. First is that my wife and kids do not have a parish priest; second is that they are not a part of my ministry, the captive audience, the litmus test, the guinea pigs. They are my family, and exposed amply to God and his Enormities. They desire and deserve a dad, not a vicar all too close. Yet there are things I should now be thinking of as the girls themselves grow into spiritual people in their own right.
I think I am exorcised over the correct balance. Suggestions?
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