And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Matthew 13:3-9

This parable used to depress me. I was confident that I was one of the seeds that fell among the rocks. I have great enthusiasm; some call it shiny object syndrome. I hear of a new novena – Let’s go! I read about a beautiful devotion – Let’s try it! But there’s a tipping point beyond which I cannot add more to my schedule and reasonably do any of it well. I end up having to choose among  good things. Otherwise I end up trying to race through my prayers to get them all done.

Perhaps you can relate.

After re-reading this parable recently, though, I decided that even though I still have shiny devotional syndrome, I think I am a struggling seed in fertile soil, but determined to bring forth good fruit. I believe this in no small part now because I have brought forth good fruit.

My children are all adults, almost all now in their 30s, who still practice their faith. They know that Catholicism is the Truth. They know that the Church is who She says She is. That’s no small matter, especially since I know, as an adult convert, that their catechesis was stunningly inadequate. I learned Catholicism with them, and while I came to understand quickly how different Catholicism is from Protestantism, I also realized that we have a faith that is fully explained and it is the work of a lifetime to enter into Her mysteries. I asked my oldest daughter, who is also my oldest child, why she thought they were all still devout when so many friends of ours, who are far holier than I, have had their children leave the faith.

She told me that every day of their childhood and adolescence my attitude was, “There is a God and He will be worshipped in this house.” Apparently, I was very clear that the most important work of the day was paying our debt to God, and my growing understanding of the faith and constant wide-eyed discoveries of Her beauty gave them that feeling of constant devotion as well. Their father did a great job answering questions directly as he had memorized them from the Baltimore Catechism in the 1950s, leading in the faith practices, and sharing the many bear traps to faith that the secular world can conjure against us.

It probably sounds like I’m taking credit for what is clearly a grace from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Faith is a gift, and I am pleased that I was granted such a totally undeserved gift. I’m equally grateful that my children have all received this gift, as well.

The final line is what now gives me pause. Some brought forth 100-fold fruit, while others brought forth 60 or 30. This makes me think of my grandchildren and the way my children evangelize.

My children have assisted in the reversion and conversion of a number of souls. I feel humbled that they are so good at advocating for the Church and laying out their faith for others in a way that is attractive. I know I should be going forth to convert the world. That I do not, and do not even really know how, is shameful. When I talk to others, I try to have Him increase and me decrease. But I’m an introvert who no longer works, so those opportunities are few.

I have two grandchildren so far, and the older is not yet two. Even so, he attempts the sign of the cross, makes his praying hands during prayers, makes sounds to pray along with us regularly, and squats when we genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament. These are all adorable, yet they also point to the profoundly better catechesis he is receiving. It also points to the profound faith that children can experience from a very young age. The reverence with which he squats and crosses himself while I’m genuflecting isn’t just adorable, though it’s amazingly adorable. It’s also evident that he understands something supernatural is happening. He is not likely to remember any of this, but I am certain that this foundation will assist him as he continues to grow in his faith.

If you’ve been feeling like a seed that falls into shallow soil and gets burned by the hot sun, please take a moment to reflect on your life. When you fall on the narrow path into sin, do you go to Confession? When you injure someone, do you apologize? When you receive Holy Communion do you give thanks for the greatest of gifts afterwards?

Even if you believe you are doing these things imperfectly, the fact that you are trying means you are assisting in the creation of deep, fertile soil. I’ve gardened with my husband for many years now, and I can tell you that deep soil is created over time. And the decayed plants and animals that go into it make it even deeper. So don’t let the decay of our sins discourage us. Dig your roots in at Confession, water yourself with Communion, and when we see them on their porches, let’s talk to our neighbors about the cause of our joy.


JENNIFER BOREK hails from Missouri. She is an adult convert to the one true faith, mother, grandmother, and backyard gardener. This essay was originally published by Catholic Journal.

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