How Homeschooling Helped My Son Discover His Mission and Purpose in Life at 5 Years Old
His eyes would usually be fixed on the pianist providing music during the daily Masses in our parish. He is naturally drawn to musicians. He is captivated by them.
One day, we went to attend Mass on a weekday, as our custom. (I had been a daily communicant since I was in college. Naturally, I wanted to share my devotion to the Holy Eucharist with my children when I became a parent.) That evening, there was no pianist providing music in the Mass. My 5-year-old son felt sad… So sad that he said to me, “Sayang! Sana ako na lang tumugtog, Mommy. Sana alam ko na lahat ng songs para kapag wala si Tito Ed, pwede ako pumalit sa kanya.” I was surprised that he felt that burden in his heart at such a young age.
He was just starting to learn how to play songs on the piano at that time. In truth, he is playing songs from the Mass oido. Whatever he hears being played in the church when we attend daily Masses, he tries to play in our small keyboard at home. That’s how he started.
That evening, when he said those words to me, I told him that he still has a lot to learn to be able to take the regular pianist’s place. But it did not discourage him. In fact, in the days, weeks and months that followed, he demonstrated radical commitment in learning the songs regularly played in the daily Masses. He was self-driven. he was passionate! He found joy in what he was doing. Surprisingly, with Tito Ed’s (the regular pianist during daily Masses in our parish then) help, support and encouragement, Yanthy learned the songs in just a matter of months. Next thing he needed to learn was when to play these songs during the Mass. He learned the parts and the correct sequence of the songs for the Mass. My husband and I and Tito Ed trained him. In no time, he has memorized the parts of the Mass, the correct sequence of songs and the proper timing when he should start playing the introduction of the songs. He even memorized the priest’s parts.
When he turned 7 years old, we gave him the opportunity to serve as the pianist in the Mass offered for his birthday. (You may read about it here in detail.) Prior to that, Tito Ed would let him play a song or two during the daily evening Masses as part of his training.
My son is now over 8 years old. He has served in our parish as pianist for evening Masses since May 2016 when Tito Ed migrated to the U.S. He was so committed and zealous to serve. The only times he did not serve was when he was very sick or we had family appointments/activities. He showed extraordinary commitment uncharacteristic of a child his age. In fact, there are adults who are not able to demonstrate that kind of commitment and for that long period of time.
I thank God for the grace to recognize that His favor and anointing was upon my child. I thank God that He gave me the humility to step aside and not stand in the way of my son or of God. Because although he is young, his heart was in the right place. He knew that his extraordinary gift in music is supposed to be used in the service of God, His Church and the community of the faithful.
I could have said to him that he is too young to take on that mission or to aspire for that God-sized dream.
I could have said to him that he doesn’t need to rush in learning to play the songs in the Mass or that he doesn’t need to rush to be a servant in our parish. If I have done that, I would have deprived my son of the opportunity to say YES to God’s call to him. I would have hindered God in showing His mighty hand and amazing grace in my son’s life. I would have deprived our parish and fellow parishioners of an opportunity to experience the Mass in its most noble form with the help of sacred music. Most importantly, I would have deprived myself and everyone else who witnessed him serve the opportunity to see God making the impossible possible in my son’s life.
Good thing I know the story of Samuel. Like Eli, I recognized that it’s possible for God to speak to or move those who are young if He wants to.
How did I know or recognize that God really wanted my child to serve Him? I saw how God orchestrated the events that led him to serve as a pianist in our parish. I believe that only God can move a 5-year-old child to strongly desire to serve Him and His Church. Only God can put that kind of burden in a 5-year-old’s heart. Only God can enable a child of that age to persevere in learning so many songs in that short span of time. Only God can move a child to forego play and other activities just to serve. Only God can prepare him just in time when his gift and his service was most needed in our parish. Only God can move people to give him that chance.
When my son first showed interest in playing the piano and when he was already starting to serve with Tito Ed, I didn’t know that Tito Ed had plans of migrating to the U.S. I actually felt sad and surprised when I learned he was leaving us so soon. I felt that my son needed to learn more from him. I felt that my son was not yet ready. But God proved me wrong time and time again.
There were many instances when he hardly had time to practice new songs. There were times when we would receive the line-up of songs in the afternoon already or late in the afternoon. Sometimes, even my husband and I do not know some of the songs in the line-up. Sometimes, we could not find music sheets or chords. We just rely sometimes on YouTube videos that our son could watch and listen to. I would many times feel nervous for him. I knew that he is playing for the Lord. I knew how serious his assignment was. Sometimes, I would ask him repeatedly before the Mass if he can really play a new song he just learned or practiced. And many times, I would just be in awe how my son could manage to learn new songs in minutes. There were occasions when he learned to play new songs 10-15 minutes before the Mass! It’s simply amazing!
I know in my heart that this extraordinary gift can only come from God. I know that only God can enable my son to learn those songs in time for the Masses wherein he needed to play them on the piano. Only God can give my son the courage and determination to try and learn new songs at so short a time. God truly makes a way for those whom He has called to His purpose.
There were times too when he wasn’t able to play songs perfectly in the Mass. There were times when his decorum or behavior was far from perfect, especially that he’s a kinesthetic and intense child who has yet to master and control his focus and over-excitabilities. (These are some of the traits of gifted children.) But God affirmed me many times of His choice through the countless people, young and old alike, who went up to me and told me that they were inspired to see my son serve God even at a young age. There were a number of times when both daily and Sunday Mass-goers went up to me with tears in their eyes saying they were moved by his music. They were inspired to praise God and glorify Him as they witness him serve in our parish. I have often heard my leaders say, “By their fruits, you shall know them.” Only God can enable him to bear these fruits. Only the Holy Spirit can move those people to be inspired and touched.
Truly, “man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.”
God’s choice may not always seem right or best… Like when he chose ordinary fishermen to be the first leaders of His Church or uneducated and sinful men to preach about Him and His kingdom. Or choosing an impulsive man to be the first Pope. But that is God, sovereign. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.
In all these, I am grateful to God that we homeschool. For if we do not homeschool, my son would not have time to go to Mass daily or have time to devote to piano practice and learning new songs for the Mass. He would not have ample time to hone this awesome gift and put it to good use in the service of the Church. He could be busy doing homework or being in traffic.
But because we homeschool, we have the freedom to make the living out of our Catholic faith an integral part of our curriculum. Because we homeschool, we could go to Mass daily. Because we homeschooled, he was exposed to sacred music and to people who served God with their talent, time and treasure. Because we homeschool, my son had plenty of time to explore his interests and that led him to discover his gift in music early on. Eventually, it led him to discover what he wanted to do for the rest of his life… He found his mission and ultimate dream in life. That is to use his gift in music to serve God and His Church. He found joy and fulfillment knowing that he is able to serve the community and contribute to its good.
How many of us has thought of our mission in life at 5 or 6 years old? I know that I had plenty of dreams too when I was that age. But I only discovered my mission and purpose when I was already in second-year college. Then, my mission became clearer to me when I was already working.
I realized that we don’t need to wait until we are adults to find the answer to the question, “What on earth am I here for?” God can reveal His will for our lives even while we are young. God can use us even in our youth. With God, nothing is impossible! We only need to be open to cooperate with God and say YES to be part of His plan.
My husband and I were right in naming him GIAN TIMOTHY. His name means “God is gracious” and “to honor God.” He is experiencing the truth of his name. God has been truly gracious to him that he is able to honor God with his life.
I thank God for the privilege He gave my eldest son and my family to cooperate with Him and be a blessing to our parish in our own unique way.
“Not to us, not to us, but to His name be glory!”