By: Norine Shaivitz
It makes me really proud when my 11-year old daughter tells me her friends ask her about Catholicism because she seems to know so much, or when my five-year-old tells me she’s trying to evangelize her classmates (even though St. Louis is already a Catholic school!). I pray all the time that my children will receive the faith and make it their own their whole life and into eternity.
I think the first part about raising kids in the faith is to look at yourself first. If you love God but love Him very privately, your children will not see your example.
Catholicism is something that, when done wholeheartedly, touches every part of life. It touches your meals (think Lenten Fridays), and it touches how you dress (think modesty), and it touches your time (think Mass). When your children see that you make the sign of the cross as you pass a church, or say a Hail Mary for someone in another car (either because they have a Christian bumper sticker or because they rudely cut you off), or when they see you praying before meals or stopping into a chapel because you want to say a quick hello to Jesus, they realize that faith is something we do all the time, not just for an hour on Sunday.
My kids know I take John 15:5 to heart: I can do nothing apart from Jesus. So, I try to remember to pray out loud in front of my children when we are getting ready for school, when I have to think of dinner, when I need to remember something, when we are traveling, when I did something wrong and need forgiveness and when things are going well. Whatever we are doing is an opportunity to pray for unity, for joy, for cooperation, for things to turn out for His glory.
Time is under God’s dominion, so I also look to the liturgical calendar for living the faith. Currently, I am in a blessed place of life to attend Mass every day. I know the calendar because I’m at Church. But you can check the bulletin for the daily readings too. These provide timely lessons on the scriptures. Catholics young and old need to know the story of salvation. To know scripture is to know Christ, as Saint Jerome said more than a thousand years ago.
The liturgical calendar can also show you the saint of the day or the season. I have found much joy in feasting (read: cupcakes) on very special days. There are big days like Christmas and Easter, but also great celebrations like Epiphany, Guardian Angel Day and Sacred Heart Day. We celebrate the family anniversaries of receiving sacraments. We celebrate name saints and patrons for our interests. There is always a reason to celebrate!
In our family, we try to bless each other often. I try to have the girls bless each other (to foster love, mercy, and unity rather than rivalry, unforgiveness, and division), I bless my husband and I ask the family to bless me. I need their blessing to be a good mom. Blessings help us to go into the day with God’s empowerment. Another good blessing is to ask for the armor of God from Ephesians 6. Signing ourselves and each other with Holy Water just before school, before bed or before something important is good too. Fear and worry can be cast out by such blessings.
Holy water transitions me to other sacramentals. We enjoy wearing holy medals and having other reminders of faith, like favorite pictures and statues. Then we can talk about them. God was good to give us so many temporal reminders because we can forget so easily in a busy world full of things that are mundane.
But the Lord also has dominion over what is mundane. Jesus spent 30 years of His life hidden away in Nazareth. Simple family life is very important to Him. It is exciting, then, to be able to invite Him into the simplicity of our family lives as well.