Matt speaking here:Marcel from Mary’s Aggies will be guest posting here once a week for the next month. We’re happy to have him here. It’ll be nice to have someone smart to speak with at the CMR Editorial Meetings.

Before I get to my topic at hand, I want to apologize for ruining the quality of writing on CMR. Patrick and Matthew must either be really desperate to find someone to guest blog or they decided to have a hack like me make a contribution just to remind their readers how much you take their writing for granted. Suffice it to say, I am humbled by their offer to guest blog.

Now, back to work.

I have been thinking lately of which theologians have influenced me most through my years. So, here is my top 20 list:

20 – Fulton Sheen

19 – John of the Cross

18 – Ignatius of Antioch

17 – Peter Kreeft

16 – Louis Bouyer

15 – John Henry Cardinal Newman

14 – Romano Guardini

13 – Richard John Neuhaus

12 – Dom Hubert von Zeller

11 – Augustine

10 – Therese of Lisieux

9 – Thomas Aquinas

8 – My professors in Grad school (Pacwa, Bushman, Lowery, Twellman, Herrman, D’Ambrosio, Peters, etc.)

7 – Benedict XVI / Ratzinger

6 – John Paul II / Wojtyla

Now, for the top five. These are names you may not recognize, but they have taught me more about God than anybody else.

They are – Kyra, Dominic, Olivia, Anna, and Elise – in no particular order. They are, of course, my kids (yes, 4 of 5 are girls – blessed am I among women).

I can’t think of anyone else who has helped me learn more about God than these kids who range from 10 to 2 years in age. They are the most insightful little monkeys you ever met. I offer three examples.

Our culture today doesn’t live in reality. They teach us that you can create your own spirituality, define what constitutes human life for yourself, make your own truth, etc. But, we know that there are objective realities that we cannot change and that relativism is a false understanding of reality. My kids remind me of this constantly. For instance, just the other day my two year, Elise, declared “Daddy has no hair”. What sublime truth! I am truly bald.

Fear of God
Many people mistakenly believe that to fear God means we are afraid to go to hell. But, this is fear of God being vengeful and the Biblical understanding of fear of God as a virtue based in love. It is being afraid of disappointing our heavenly Father. My son, Dominic taught me just what this means. It still only takes one disappointed look from me to make him sad that he has messed up. Just to make sure you don’t think I walk around with a mean look on my face (that is the natural look I have), I usually quickly melt into a ball of goo after making him tear up.

God’s Mercy
I am sure every parent learns this from their children, but mine do it better – HAH! We all know God is a loving and merciful God (some Catholic talk about nothing else, as if there is no hell or judgment). But, nobody images and lives out mercy and forgiveness better than little kids. Take for example my 4 and 5 year olds. Both girls, they love Polly Pockets (warning – choking hazards are numerous). They love them so much they like to take them from each other frequently and then a screaming match ensues. This match leads, usually, to either my wife or myself having to jump into the octagon of doom and break it up. Yet, the difference lies in how quickly, completely, and truly forgive and then move on. This is just how God does it. We step into the confessional, receive absolution, and poof – we are free.

My kids – the best theologians I have run across. I can’t wait for them to write the next chapter of their masterpiece on God.