My friend Steve once related that perhaps the most influential experience of his childhood—in terms of his Catholic faith—was getting out of the bed one night to go to the bathroom and seeing his father on his knees saying his prayers bedside. Steve had no idea that his dad prayed at all, let alone on his knees each and every night.
Because children are so strongly influenced by their parents, we need to do all we can to equip parents with what they need to model Catholicism for their children. Recently, blogger and author Katie Warner shared a post where she suggested seven ways for parents to make their faith visible so that their children “catch” it from them. For example, parents could:
- Pursue a deeper relationship with Christ so that the modeling is authentic.
- Pray regularly and visibly. Steve was lucky to “catch” his dad praying.
- Exhibit virtues and, I would add, talk about the struggle to be virtuous.
- Work on showing love to their spouse.
- Embrace Catholic culture by observing the liturgical calendar (seasons and feasts) and Catholic practices.
- Commit to learning about their faith.
- Exhibit the peace of Christ.
The New Evangelization reminds us, however, that we must not assume that parents already know how to do any of the above. Rather, we must assume that many don’t and, in response, must offer practical ways that parents can learn about and practice their faith and transform their home into the domestic church.
I recommend that catechetical leaders highlight and promote one Catholic practice every month, catechize about it in parent newsletters, and offer step-by-step suggestions for how to incorporate the practice into daily living. For example, here are a few:
- Enthroning a Bible in the home—Include catechesis on Scripture and provide a link to a Catholic Bible (perhaps from a local establishment) they can purchase to display in their home.
- Blessing themselves and their children with holy water—Include catechesis on Baptism, provide holy water bottles for families, and inform them where they can find the holy water spigot in your church.
- Praying the Rosary—Include catechesis on prayer, offer free or low-cost rosaries to families, and provide an instruction sheet (or perhaps a short video on your website) for how to pray the Rosary.
- Displaying a crucifix in the home—Include catechesis on the Paschal Mystery and provide a link for (or make available for sale) crucifixes that are reasonably priced that families can display in the home.
Other topics might include: wearing medals and scapulars, palm-weaving and displaying palms in the home, sacred icons and images including small statues, Advent wreaths, seasons and feasts of the liturgical year, fasting and abstaining from meat, the Works of Mercy, the lives of the saints, Catholic literature, Catholic hymns, and more.
What other topics or practices would you include?