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

by | Apr 13, 2024 | Formation, Reflections | 2 comments

What an incredible moment when I heard the last cries of my beloved wife and the first cries of my daughter!  What an incredible moment to behold that child, small but immortal; that child that God placed in my hands; that child that has brought me much love and many obligations. With great impatience I await the day of her baptism. We have named her, Marie, the same name as my mother and in memory of the powerful patroness to whose intercession we attribute this joyful birth.

We will begin her education immediately and at the same time we will also begin our education. I have become aware of the fact that God has given us this child in order to teach us many things. I cannot look upon this loving child, so innocent and pure, without seeing in her the sacred seal of the Creator … a seal that is less blurred in her than in us. I cannot think about that imperishable soul (a soul that I must be concerned about) without coming to a deeper understanding of my responsibilities. How can I give her lessons, if I do not practice what I teach? Could God have given me anything more loving in order to instruct me, to correct me, and to place me on the path that leads to heaven?


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



  1. This text was written by Frederic two weeks after seeing his daughter for the first time, surely with some more tiredness due to a little lack of sleep, and after changing a few diapers …
  2. Frederic expressed his feelings in many of the letters that he wrote during that era … something quite natural. I am sure that the majority of those men and women who are parents remember the birth of their children as the most incredible days of their lives.
  3. Believers see the birth of their children as an event that draws them closer to God. The mystery of life makes people reflect on God as Creator. We, who participate in the creative activity of God, have the responsibility to bring to fulfillment God’s saving plan for all people.
  4. Frederic’s words lead us to reflect on our relationships as a family and, more specifically, to reflect on the quality of those relationships. Frederic was not only one of the founders of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, a dedicated professor, a faithful and generous friend, but he was also a father and husband … and his example enlightens 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 show my love to them? 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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  1. James E Ruiz

    Beautiful, Thank You for sharing this letter by Frederick Ozanam.

  2. Ross

    Thanks, Javier, for this lesson, made clear with example, that to grasp the sacred means to be fascinated and awed by it.


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