I’ve been reading your answers to questions on Integrated Catholic Life™ and have been playing with the idea of writing you a question that I’ve been thinking about for many years. It’s about my family. I don’t consider us bad Catholics, nor do I consider us to be devout “pillars of the parish”. We are just a regular Catholic family. I feel uncertain as the head of the family whether I am doing a good enough job of passing along the Catholic faith to my family. Do you have any advice that would help me?
Thank you for your question, which I’m pretty certain many other husbands and dads find themselves asking.
What a blessing! You state that you are just a “regular Catholic family”. You are blessed, indeed, and so is the rest of your family. Don’t belittle yourself and your role as the father of your family. I believe you are doing a lot more than you realize to share your faith with your children. The Catholic faith isn’t so much “taught” as it is “lived”. Or rather, the very living out of the Catholic faith teaches.
We Catholics often taken our faith for granted. It is so natural, so easy, that we can lose the depth of the beauty of our Catholic faith. Your, and my, relationship with our Catholic Church is much like meeting an old friend, and if you haven’t seen each other in a while, the two of you just take up, effortlessly, when you last left off – the kind of friendship that is deeper than words, and more valuable than gold. Like a pair of shoes, all broken in, comfortable and just right, so, too, is growing up in the Catholic faith within a Catholic family.
Within our family setting, we learn who we are and what is expected of us. We are assured of forgiveness when we are truly sorry, and we have a place where we can verbally let our sins go and hear the words of Christ’s absolution through the voice of the priest. We can show up in any church, at any time, in any country of the world and be accepted. We can participate in the Mass anywhere and know what is going on, despite language barriers.
In your home, your children learn the sign of the cross as you trace it on their tiny foreheads or taking your child’s tiny hand, support it as it forms the sign of the cross. This one action teaches them about the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), our salvation from our sins (the cross) and our status as sons and daughters of God our Father for we can pray “In the Name…..”
A Catholic sacrament will accompany every milestone of their lives. Their birth (Baptism), their coming to the age of reason (Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist), maturing and individuation as teens (Confirmation), commitment to a life-long spouse (Matrimony) or being sealed with the holy oils as a priest (Holy Orders) and finally, in times of sickness and, ultimately, at the hour death (Sacrament of the Sick).
Like most Catholics, we live a blessed life and often don’t even give a random thought about it. We just take our faith for granted. We are the children of the King, living our lives within His palace, often without even thinking about those outside of the palace. We sit on the lap of our Father, unaware of the many who do not know of God, and who have no idea of the serene and confident trust that accompanies us every day. We just accept it.
Even if your family at times may not be “up to par” – not going to Church or receiving the Sacraments as regularly as you should, you know you can always go back and pick up where you left off. You know Christ is waiting in the Holy Eucharist within the tabernacle, night and day, waiting for you to come.
You, as father of your family and head of your household, need only to bring your children to Christ, help them meet Him, get to know Him at the baptismal font, at the Eucharistic feast, in the sacrament of reconciliation. Then God, who works from within each child’s soul, will continue that relationship in a way that far surpasses your hopes and dreams. He will do the rest. On that we can depend.
Thank you for your question and until next time,
Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D.
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