As a Director of Religious Education, I have the wonderful opportunity to meet many families of various sizes and design.  Some are two-parent families, some divorced and some that are mostly held together by loving grandparents.

No matter what your family looks like, if you are going to effectively pass on the faith to your children, what matters most is that you practice it in your home.

Now there are a variety of ways to practice Catholicism in one’s home, but unfortunately, it seems to me, there are a growing number of well-intentioned Catholics who are becoming hyper-critical of their brothers and sisters in the faith whose daily living out of the faith looks a bit different from their own.  This is very dangerous and extremely unhealthy.

Let me explain.

Let’s say as a mom of young children, I have my hands quite full playing with my children and doing the daily household tasks that need to get done.

Am I a faithful Catholic if I do not take my children to daily Mass?

What if my Pastor (who also happens to be practicing his faith as well), doesn’t attend our Friday Adoration services because he is exhausted from serving his community all week?

Is he practicing Catholicism faithfully?

What if, for instance, I teach my children grace before meals and pray with them at bedtime, but I miss a First Friday?

What if I don’t pray the Rosary everyday?  Am I as Catholic as you?

Many people today, I fear, would think that the mom, the Pastor and the parent missing First Friday are not good Catholics, when, in reality, they might be very devout Catholics.

Are these practices good and worthy of our efforts?  Of course they are.  But when I speak of families needing to practice faith in their homes, that does not mean that they must do everything.  Attempting any combination of these things would be good, but each of us must decide for ourselves what is possible to keep our family healthy and our faith vibrant.  (Naturally, that is not to say that we can pick and choose about the obligations of our faith (such as Sunday Mass) or the teachings of the Church.)

Faith must be a priority in our life, but we must not become enslaved to someone else’s idea of perfection.  Your best friend’s ways are not necessarily the best indicator of how your family should practice their faith.

Be faithful to what the Church teaches; practice it as best you can—even imperfectly as you must—and trust that God will continue to bless you and accept whatever you offer him.  He knows you.  He loves you.

I have always said that we must choose between all of the good things that God gives us and this is especially true when it comes to working out our faith practices at home.

Please, mothers and fathers, if you are unable to do so many things  and others hint that you are less of a Catholic, do not accept it.  It is simply not true.

Copyright 2010 Janet Cassidy