I came across an old home movie recently, of a picnic with my siblings and cousins when we were all on the cusp of adulthood. My sister and her fiance were manifesting their first timid acts of public affection, the rest of us were clowning around. Since that day, about twenty years ago, we have all married and had children, so that now, between all of us, there are roughly thirty new people in existence. The oldest of our children is just ready to start college.
It boggles my mind when I think about it. Who were we back then, without these new people in our lives? I thought I knew myself well at seventeen, but I had no idea.
A priest once told me that you can tell Catholic art from other religious art, because Catholic art is always relational–Mary is surrounded by the Christ child and St John. The subjects often make eye contact with each other or with the viewer rather than looking inward. We find Christ and ourselves in the transformative and redeeming grace of relationships.
Catholicism didn’t create the newer generation that is now picnicking and clowning in our stead. It didn’t conceive and bear my own six children, but it suggested them, and my life is certainly richer and more interesting because of it.