The five year-old boy jumped out of the stopped van, as his father and brothers prepared to go fishing. Walking near the water, he looked for rocks on the shore. He first gathered several smaller ones, but not satisfied he hunted until he found a large one. I sat some distance watching, as he took the biggest one and heaved it into the river. When it made a large splash, he smiled and strutted up to his family like a conqueror who just accomplished his mission. He let them know of his accomplishment and his older brothers and father congratulate him for finding the big rock and throwing it so far into the river.

What we may see as a small achievement might be a big thing for someone else. This applies to children, but equally to adults. We remember our pride when we got that big hit to win a baseball game or made that final shot to bring victory to our basketball team. We recall a child who won a prize in school or did well in a contest. How about the adult who worked extra jobs to finally pay off a home! To do such things is an accomplishment in itself, but how much more rewarding if someone recognizes what we have done.

To affirm a child, friend, family member, or stranger is a Christian virtue if done in the spirit of charity. It enhances self-dignity and brings greater confidence on the road of life.

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A priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio, Father Bob Hater is also Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton. Order Fr. Hater’s new book, Common Sense Catechesis: Lessons from the Past, Road Map for the Future.