Mary Lou Rosien offers advice to parents looking for ways to pass on the faith to their children.
I was recently speaking to young parents about ways to keep their kids on the right track, especially in areas of faith. I realized that I could boil it down to an acronym: PRACTICE!
With three things I am delighted, for they are pleasing to the Lord and to men: Harmony among the brethren, friendship among neighbors, and the mutual love of a husband and wife. (Sirach 25:1)
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
When raising Catholic kids, it is important for us to truly practice our faith! If we do not pray for God’s strength and guidance, we will not be able to pass on the faith to our children. The sacraments will strengthen us to make the best choices for our families. After all, we cannot give our children what we, ourselves, do not possess. If your children see you making prayer (including Mass) a priority, they will follow your example.
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. (Colossians 3:21)
Our children will follow the example we set. If they see us frequent Confession, they will assume it is a normal, healthy part of Catholic family life. If we make time to find a church and attend Mass even on vacation, they will know that faith is a priority in our lives and in the life of our family. If we show patience and charity, they will know that others are important to us.
Bear with one another … forgive each other: as the Lord has forgiven you. (Colossians 3:13)
If we require our family members to admit wrongs, ask for forgiveness, grant forgiveness, and go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, they will learn to forgive and ask forgiveness. It will bring grace into our family life and interactions and that will flow out to the world at large.
Be consistent in your thoughts; steadfast in your words. (Sirach 5:12)
If we are on fire for the faith at times, and then put other things (work, sports, recreation) above faith (Mass attendance and so on), our children will not take our words to heart. If we lack consistency in our methods of discipline, our attention to family matters and the practice of our faith, they will not have the understanding that will keep them consistent either.
Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
We all recognize that family traditions are important; do we equally recognize that our family’s faith traditions are important? What faith traditions do you have? (Family Rosary on Sunday, Chaplet while the kids fall asleep, Confession on Saturdays - followed by ice cream, perhaps?) What traditions could you cultivate?
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
Include your children in discussions about faith and charity to others. As a family, engage in charitable acts, and pray with your children daily.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17)
The community we allow ourselves and our children to be surround by is important. Do the people in our lives bring us a step closer to God or drive us further away?
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Excitement for our faith is catchy! If we demonstrate that learning about and practicing our Catholic faith is exciting, our children will see it that way too. How do we approach things like Mass attendance, faith formation classes, youth groups and church retreats? What do we do to enhance our own spiritual journeys? (Look for podcasts, spiritual reading or programs, March for Life, novenas, and other opportunities to grow in faith.)
Copyright 2021 Mary Lou Rosien
Images: Canva Pro; bottom photo copyright 2019 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Mary Lou Rosien is a Catholic wife, mom to seven, educator, writer, and speaker. She is the author of several books including Three Things Divorced Catholics need to Know and The Joy-Filled Broken Heart. She is known for her love of all things cooking and baking, especially “Friday cookies.” Visit her at CatholicFamilyBootCamp.com.