Family Faith Snapshots: Carol Younger
As Mother Teresa said, do small things, but with great love
Who are you?
My husband, Herb, and I are life-long Catholics. We both had the good fortune to attend Catholic schools all the way through college. Herb worked for NASA and I was a public school teacher when we married. [Later], we both went back to grad school [and] we continued to catechize ourselves in parish volunteer work, catechetical teaching, children’s sacramental programs, and various Church evangelization movements. Then, after a 38-year career in public education, I taught in Catholic graduate schools in catechesis, psychology, and school counseling in Catholic and Evangelical universities. In between and throughout, I’ve led Bible Study groups, RCIA, and taught Salvation History.
Recently, I’ve authored the Retreat Companion for Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory, and contributed to WINE: Women In the New Evangelization’s book publications and journals. And now, retired from education, I am currently working on a small book of Christmas poetry, written for our family over our 50 plus years of marriage.
Tell me a little about your family.
Herb is a real rocket scientist. He played with launching rockets as a kid, and worked for Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA during those years of solar exploration and moon landings. Our children matured, married and began their own families, and through the grace of God remained Catholic and their families became involved in their own parishes. Our eldest son, Joseph has a family that includes a wife, three daughters, a granddaughter and a grandson! He works in computer systems. Our middle daughter is a lawyer and married another lawyer! She works in a state justice department. Her husband and she have two daughters in school. Our youngest son is employed at a Catholic university in study abroad programs. He and his wife have three young children, two boys and a girl.
What is your prayer routine like as a couple on an average day?
Often Herb and I start the day with prayer at the breakfast table. Either I read something from the Liturgy of the Hours, while he seeks out spiritual reading from the internet, and we exchange our intentions or concerns for prayer, or we say the Rosary. In the evening, we often pray the Rosary and/or the Divine Mercy Chaplet after dinner.
Do you have a specific devotion that is particularly important to you as a couple?
The Rosary, always the Rosary. It’s our go-to prayer and meditation. We grew up during the Cold War era, hence the Rosary was and always is front and center. Prayer almost always means the Rosary. When we travel around, we’ve been known to say the full 20 decades in the car!
Do you as a couple have a special patron saint?
MARY. It’s always Mary. Herb and I have been devoted to her since childhood. And I took her — I should say, she took me — at Confirmation. About 25 years ago, right after a pilgrimage, we both felt called to Mary in a special, more personal way. We completed the St. Louis de Montfort Marian Consecration with two of our children. And as a parent, I felt the strong urge to consecrate our third child at the same time. The whole experience of Marian Consecration is life-changing.
Our patron saints are the ones whom we chose as Confirmation patrons, or those our children have chosen for Confirmation. We pray for them through their confirmation saints. Our daughter chose St. Cecilia because of her musical talent on flute. She plays with her children’s choir for her two daughters. And St. Cecilia was a martyr for the faith. We pray for strong faith for our daughter and her family. Our youngest son chose St. Anthony because he wanted to make sure he never lost the faith! We pray for that intention for all the children and grandchildren!
How do your spouse, children and grandchildren inspire you to grow in faith?
As parents, we’re called to pray for our children. Usually, this takes the form of “help them grow strong and healthy, keep them from harm, give them a meaningful career and a good family, etc.” However, as they marry and begin to grow families of their own, everything in prayer changes. There are so many more individual concerns to include; so you keep adding in “thank you” and “please” in your conversation with God about them.
Then, out of the blue heaven, the Lord reminds us in prayer: “I love them more than you do. I have a special plan for each of them that is greater than your desires for them. It’s greater even than your prayers for them. Do you trust me to give them what they need?”
Then our prayer changes again. Prayer becomes more of surrender than it was before, more surrender than when they grew up, married and moved away. As we watch them in their faith practice making every effort to meet their duties as parents, we realize more and more how much we are called to be prayerful for them. And importantly, as grandparents, even great-grandparents, we try to model a life of faith, especially when we talk about the Pope, the Church, the crises in the world that can only be met at our personal level by Catholic sacramental life and trust in God. We try to live personal piety so they can see it, tell them about our study of the Faith, the Bible, the saints, and what we are doing – even though it be smaller things as we age – that is Catholic action in our community.
What are some things you do to help pass on the faith to your grown children and growing grandchildren?
Gifts given are chosen with the faith in mind, a movie or a book, even a birthday card has a reference to the faith and God’s love for them. When we travel to see them, going to Mass and celebrating sacramental events like First Communion or Baptisms with them takes center place; we even sing in their choirs when we are there! I’ve taught some of my granddaughters how to make rosaries and, recently, my daughter-in-law told me that Hannah was the only one in her fifth grade class to be able to respond to the request to repair a rosary for a classmate. She felt special, and the story brought tears to my eyes: I’ve passed on a love of the Rosary to Hannah!
How do you and your husband work to keep your faith alive in this new season of retirement?
We follow blogs, online Bible study programs, go on pilgrimages — even the short ones in our own diocese — and attend conferences. I lead a women’s weekly Bible study group that focuses on the Sunday readings and salvation history.
Can you share a word of wisdom that has been particularly beneficial to you in your spiritual life as a wife, parent and grandparent?
Always forgive! Remember to love. Always try to offer kindness, and even mention prayer, individually and personally to those God brings close to you, spouse, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, friends — even the checker in the grocery or the waitress in the restaurant! Simple stuff; as Mother Teresa said: we only do small daily stuff, but with great love.