The shell of an old model car rested alone on the grass. Now, dark and dull, it was a faint image of its former beauty, when it glistened as it covered the chassis of a child’s model of a 1950’s Chevrolet. The rounded shell was all that remained.

A father and his son found it in an elderly woman’s flea market. Few people gave it the time of day, until the child’s glance revealed that he wanted it. He hoped that his mechanic-father and he could locate an original chassis and restore it to its original condition. They examined it, left for a while, returned, and purchased it.

Their interest in using the skin of this old car to begin rebuilding it was superseded by the evident love between the boy and his father. Restoring the car together gave them the opportunity to deepen this love.

As the father worked with his son on their new venture, he powerfully influenced the boy’s value system and priorities. He taught him to communicate in a serious way in the time they spent together. Much is possible when doing something constructive, like rebuilding a child’s car, playing games, taking a hike in the woods, or hanging out and getting to know each other better.

Pope Francis speaks of coming to know God through a culture of encounter. Such encounters involve developing human relationships of love and trust that make it easier for the all loving God to enter more fully into our experiences, like the love of a son and his dad. When such trust is established early in life, it sets the foundation for the trust needed by a youngster when beset with the challenges of growing up. Such a loving relationship is the groundwork for sharing the Good News of Jesus’ love. 

Order Fr. Hater’s new book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.