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"Arming our children for spiritual battle" by Tina Mayeux (CatholicMom.com) Image credit: By Vince Fleming (2019), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD[/caption] It’s no secret that we are engaged in a spiritual battle. Ephesians 6:12 declares, “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” This battle is all the more evident when our children encounter outside influences which are, at times, contrary to the values we have worked hard to instill within them at home. After homeschooling our children for a brief period, my husband and I opted to enroll our children in Catholic school. The decision to send them to school has worked well for our family; however, there have been unique challenges and difficulties which have arisen. The children are vulnerable to peer pressure and even bullying at a much younger age when they attend school outside the home. Parents are not always able to get to know their children’s friends and their families as well as homeschooling parents can. There is the temptation to give in to the trend of technology overuse and the need to monitor the children’s communication with their friends. There is also the pressure of heightened academic competition, especially as the children get older, among other challenges. As our children grow and mature, they will venture out more and encounter new people and challenging situations. How can we prepare them for the temptations which they will inevitably face? I believe that praying and celebrating the Sacraments together is the single most important way to bring unity to the family and arm our children against the enemy. When our children were younger, although it was difficult, we attempted to bring them often to daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. Even as babies and toddlers, I would try to quietly pacify them while I snuck in a few minutes of Adoration or stationed myself inconspicuously in the back pew for daily Mass while wearing them in a baby sling. This was not an easy feat and was not always successful; however, we were blessed to have the support of like-minded friends, and we encouraged each other when things became difficult. There were times when a friend would watch my children while I ran to Mass or Adoration, or I helped her in this way. Having spiritual friends has been integral in staying faithful during the years of parenting small children. I will never forget hearing my oldest daughter utter the name of Jesus as one of her very first words. In taking our children to Mass and Adoration early on, we are hopefully planting the seeds of faith that will grow and blossom later as they mature in their walk with Christ. Frequent reception of the Eucharist, the Body of Christ, nourishes us and fills us with his divine life so that we are more disposed to remain in the state of grace. It increases virtue in us and through it our venial sins are forgiven. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin (CCC 1395). Bringing children regularly to the Sacrament of the Eucharist is an excellent means of helping to protect them from sin and evil and to prevent them from falling away from the Church. Although we have not been 100% faithful to it, and, at times, our recitation has been chaotic and distracted, praying the Rosary is another key devotion which helps to train the children in prayer and fidelity to Our Lady. Over the years, we have prayed the Rosary at home in the family, in groups with other families, and often even in the car while listening to a CD version of the prayer. They know that the Rosary is essential in our home, and I hope that, as they transform into young ladies, this most beloved prayer will continue to be a part of their lives. By praying the Rosary, we foster a strong devotion to Our Lady, who is feared by the evil one. When God declared the serpent cursed in the Garden of Eden, he proclaimed to it that, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Genesis 3:15). Teaching our children to love Mary and entrusting them to her ensures her protection and care over them. The use of sacramentals is also important to spiritually safeguard our children. The scapular and Miraculous Medal are beautiful and powerful religious items which, when worn piously, ensure the protection of Our Lady. We often bless our daughters with holy water when we pray before going to bed and any time they feel tempted. We, as parents, have the privilege of being able to bestow a blessing upon our children at any time by making the Sign of the Cross over them. St. Michael the Archangel is a first line of defense against the enemy when praying for our children. We can pray the St. Michael prayer daily and when possible, the Chaplet of St. Michael. Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of St. Thérèse, are two go-to saints for family issues and protection of our children. They are the first married couple canonized together and they raised five daughters, all of whom became nuns. St. Monica is an excellent advocate for wayward children, praying for years for her son Augustine, who later became a saint and a doctor of the Church. The example of these and other faithful saints who were parents is an inspiration and encouragement to all of us. St. Charbel Makhlouf was a Maronite priest who wrote about the battle against the family. He stated,
The family is the basis of the Lord’s plan; and all forces of evil are focusing their evil on destroying the family because they know that by destroying the family, the foundations of the plan of God will be shaken.
This knowledge can be discouraging and even frightening to us as parents. When the task seems too difficult and overwhelming, I like to turn it all over to the care of Our Blessed Mother and the saints, many of whom have lived out the vocation of marriage and family and are cheering us on in heaven as we endure the struggle here on earth. As difficult as it can be at times, take heart! As God promised the Israelites in the Old Testament when they faced attack from their enemies, “Do not fear or be dismayed at the sight of this vast multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15) And again, He says, “The Lord will fight for you; you have only to keep still.” (Exodus 14:14)

What are some other ways we can arm our children against the enemies of their souls?

Copyright 2019 Tina Mayeux