I feel very honored to have Fr. George, a true confessor for the faith, as my spiritual father. I asked him once how he could remain so cheerful, considering his sufferings. He replied that he'd always had a cheerful character, even from childhood. He was the youngest child in his family and very close to his mother. He told me that when he was in prison he sometimes felt his mother's prayers.

Once, he said, prison officials informed him, "Your wife has divorced you and your son has renounced you." With no way to check this information, Fr. George was near despair. In his heart he accused his mother, "You told me you would watch over them! Now even you have abandoned me." That night he had a dream in which he saw her. She looked up at him with an expression of reproach and asked, "How could you ever think that I would abandon you?" The next morning Fr. George's wife and son were at the prison asking to see him, and to assure him that the rumors were false, that they loved him and would never leave.

Now Fr. George lives in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., and pastors Holy Cross Romanian Orthodox Church. Though in his 70s, he is as vigorous as a man decades younger and travels across the country and around the world for the Church. He and his wife have settled in the area, and a few years ago his son presented him with a grandson. Like Job the Long-suffering, he has endured indescribable misery and yet persevered to see joy.

It is this quality of joy that always strikes me when I see him. Fr. George has the smile of a child who knows that he is loved. I think about the power of that mother-child bond and how the love she gave him so many years ago contributed to the strength that bore him through his trials. He must have learned that smile while looking up at her; I can imagine her reflected in his eyes.

All of us who are mothers should keep in mind that we are laying a foundation for a lifetime, and we do not know where it will lead. Our children may have to undergo suffering that we cannot prevent, beyond what we can imagine, beyond our reach to help. In such times they may be strengthened by a moment of kindness we give them today. Fr. George's smile is a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit, to his own courage and faith--but also to a mother's love.

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