Learning from Our Children and Our Fathers • A Weekly Reflection with Ozanam

by | Jun 26, 2017 | Formation, Reflections

What a moment was that, when I heard the last cry of my beloved wife and the first cry of my daughter, when I saw that creature, small but immortal, that God put in my hands, that made me feel great tenderness and also so many obligations! With what impatience I longed the time of her baptism! We have given her the name of Marie, which was that of my mother, and in memory of the mighty Patroness to whose intercession we attribute this happy birth […].

We will begin her education immediately, at the same time as ours will begin, for I realize that heaven sends her to teach us much, and to make us better. I can not gaze that sweet figure, all full of innocence and purity, without finding in her the sacred imprint of the Creator, less blurred than in us. I can not think of that imperishable soul, of which I will have to give account, without being more penetrated of my duties. How could I give her lessons if I do not practice them? Could God give me a kinder way of educating myself, of correcting myself, and of putting myself on the path of heaven?


Frederic Ozanam, Letter to Theophile Foisset, August 7, 1845.



  1. A few weeks ago we reflected on a text that Frederic wrote the same day of the birth of his daughter Marie. This text today was written by him two weeks after seeing his daughter for the first time, but surely with some more tiredness due to a little lack of sleep, and after changing a few diapers …
  2. Frederic’s emotion is shown in a large number of letters around this time. It is normal: I am sure that the vast majority of those who have lived the joy of parenting remember the day of childbirth as one of the most wonderful in their lives.
  3. To believers, the birth of a child brings us closer to God. The mystery of life makes us look to the God who created it. We, who participate in the creative work of God, have the responsibility to bring to fulfillment his plan of salvation for all.
  4. The text of Frederic makes us think about how we care for our family relationships, and invites us to measure their “quality.” For Frederic was not only one of the founders of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an important defender of the social question and the rights of the workers, a devoted teacher, a faithful and generous friend … he was also a father and husband, and his example can also illuminate our family life.

Questions for dialogue:

For the parents:

  1. “Heaven sends her to teach us much.” Are we parents aware that we not only “teach” but also “learn” from our children? Do we encourage this mutual learning?
  2. “Heaven sends her to make us better.” How do children make us better?
  3. “How could I give her lessons if I do not practice them?” Do we practice what we ask our children to practice?

For the sons and daughters:

  1. Do I feel responsible for creating a good family environment?
  2. Do I love my parents? Do I manifest them my love? When was the last time I said “I love you” to Mom or Dad?
  3. Do I help my parents in their household tasks?
  4. And if they are older, do I accompany them and I am at their side, both in happy and in difficult moments?

Javier F. Chento
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