Tips for Discipleship in the Family

In her book, Forming Intentional Disciples, Sherry Weddell remarks, “Whenever we treat Jesus as a “topic” within Catholicism instead of the “whole spiritual good of the Church” (CCC 11324) … we profoundly distort the faith and communicate an impersonal or institutional understanding of what it means to be Catholic” (p. 143).

What does she mean? Weddell is reminding us that the most important aspect of Christianity is that we follow a Person, not a concept. No matter what our vocation, Jesus should be central to our lives. Therefore in order to grow in our faith life, we must learn the way in which to encounter the Lord in a personal way.

I have long believed that motherhood, and parenthood in general, is a prime opportunity to encounter the Lord and commit to a greater relationship with the One who is our “whole spiritual good.”

The gospel of Luke sets the scene for the arrival of God’s anointed: not a rich palace or even a rabbinical school. It was simply a family- Mary and Joseph, who together received the gift of a Child and committed to bringing him up to grow in holiness and grace before God and the community. Mary found God in the practice of being a mother and wife. Joseph found the Lord in obedience to a Mystery he could not comprehend.

This is quite surprising, and we might ask ourselves: how do I do this in my own life, how do I meet the Lord in my family life?

Some simple ways we can do this follow. Begin with just one, add others as you like. Invite Jesus to be the center of your life and your family’s.

  • Practice the presence of God by including family prayers at meal times and before bed.
  • Share Scripture passages on a regular basis by reading the Bible together.
  • See any troublesome things that happen to us as a family as something we can get through with God’s help.
  • Thank God regularly for all we have, and think of ourselves as Stewards of all we have and possess
  • Purify our hearts for God and while using the things of this world, but be not attached.

Each family will find its own way to grow to be Jesus-centered, but it begins with the leadership of the parents, and women often take the lead in this. In our busy world, we are called by the Holy Spirit to focus regularly on the person of the Lord and see him actively present in our lives. That is the best and only way we will be able to grow spiritually and pass the faith onto our children. And, let us always pray for one another.

Copyright 2014, Julie Paavola