Building a House on Rock

by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” Mt 7:24-27

At the Children’s Mass this week, our pastoral minister handed out small rocks with crosses on them to serve as a reminder to the children to build their house (their soul) on stone. She had spoken with them about the things that cause their houses to be built on sand such as lying, disobeying, fighting and cheating, and the good, holy things that help build their houses on stone such as prayer, being helpful, and listening to their parents.

Even though I am not a child, I enjoy the children’s homilies very much, perhaps because they get down to the basics. Of course, our faith has to evolve as we get older. Life becomes more complex and our belief needs to adapt to that. The world is not so nearly black and white. There are important decisions to be made. There is work to be done and responsibilities to attend to. It is so darn easy to get stuck in ethical muck, where the distinction between right and wrong does not seem so clear.

Yet, what if it really is as simple as children believe it to be? I know it is not easy to be a child. I committed lots of sins as one and I see my children struggle with doing the right thing as well. Knowing the right thing to do and doing it all the time are two different things, no matter what our age. Children, if they have been taught properly, do have a very defined sense of right and wrong, however. They don’t see very many shades of gray. When someone does something wrong, they are quick to point it out, no matter how small the offense. They do know what things will build their houses on stone and what will build it on sand.

What about us? Perhaps we need to get back to basics as well. Perhaps we need to be like the little children that Jesus calls to him. Perhaps we need to get back the strong sense of right and wrong we had when we were young and do our best to do the right thing. We need to weed out the rationalizations that allow us to do the wrong thing and think that it is OK. We need to strengthen the habits that allow us to stay on the straight and narrow path. We need to focus on prayer, and following the commandments, loving our neighbor, and giving to the poor. If we do that, then we, too, will have built our homes on stone, and the turmoil of the storms around us will do us no harm.

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is editor of Spiritual Woman and author of Letters to Mary from a Young MotherVisit her blogs at and
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