Part 1 of the ‘Passing On The Beauty of Our Catholic Faith‘ series
When we first moved into our little home in the hills, our neighbor donated some homeschooling books and materials to our very young family. I was pleasantly surprised to see a wonderful work edited by Fr. Brett Brannen entitled Help For Catholic Parents. I knew I needed this as my daughter was in pre-school and my son had just turned two weeks old.
As I was browsing through his work, Fr. Brannen made clear that these suggestions presuppose the fulfillment of the normal requirements of every Catholic such as attendance at Sunday Mass and obedience to the laws of God and the laws of the Church.
What impressed me the most was that his suggestions were very simple for my young family to follow. And everyone knows I’m a big fan of “simple.” Although I have adjusted some of these suggestions to fit our family’s dynamic, most of them don’t take too long to practice and yet have eternal benefits for our little ones and our families.
1. Daily Devotions
Daily devotions should be an integral part of any Catholic family’s homeschooling day. It gives both parents and children a chance to start the day right and regenerate during prayer breaks spread throughout the day.
Daily devotions may include Daily Mass, Morning Offering, Liturgy of the Hours, Scripture Meditation, Quiet Time with Jesus, Angelus, Chaplet, Family Rosary, Examination of Conscience, Act of Contrition and the Guardian Angel Prayer.
Feel free to choose devotions that are age-appropriate and work well with the dynamic of your family.
2. Weekly Adoration
Weekly adoration is a perfect time to pause during our busy week and learn to be still, listen to our Lord and gain the strength that we need to continue on our earthly journey. When the children go to adoration, I encourage them to bring their favorite prayer books and their own prayer journals.
Little ones can simply draw in these journals, while I encourage our older children to sit, listen and write. To this day, I am very touched when my teenage daughter shares with me her journals describing the times she has felt God so close to her heart.
Prayer journals, especially during adoration, are a wonderful way our children can truly own and grow deeper in their faith.
3. Monthly Confession
Our family has designated every First Saturday afternoon as a time for our monthly family Confession. My little ones get excited and eagerly mark their calendars in their bedrooms. However, when Confession Day comes, they can’t help but feel a bit nervous.
So, we have given each child a very small spiral notebook with Prayers Before and After Confession, Examination of Conscience and an Act of Contrition. The leftover pages of the notebook become the perfect place to jot down their sins, if they so wish. And because it’s a spiral notebook, the pages tear out easily right after confession.
Having this handy notebook seems to calm our little ones’ jitters down a great deal.
4. Passing By a Catholic Church
My son seems to do a good job reminding us to make the Sign of the Cross when passing by a Catholic Church. We then say a short prayer such as: “O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
Another favorite prayer when passing by a church is: “O Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee, My God, My God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
5. Respect for the Holy Name of Jesus
A very popular Catholic tradition is to bow our heads at the Holy Name of Jesus.
This ancient practice is based on St. Paul’s words in Philippians 2:10: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
Another practice is to bless the name of the Lord each time our children encounter someone who curses or uses the Lord’s name in vain. They can pray, “Blessed be the name of the Lord now and forever.”
According to Fr. Brannen, “This prayer should be recited by the children twice, once to cancel out the curse and again to replace that curse with a blessing! If prayed out loud, the prayer will be more effective. This practice, in the mouth of a child, has melted the heart of more than one misdirected adult and will do so again!”
Next time, I will be sharing some simple ways we can pass on our faith during our bedtime routine. For now, I leave you with a beautiful quote from Fr. Brannen:
“Parents are like books from which their children learn. Even infants are constantly watching and learning from their mother and father. Children are like blank pages which will be written upon by their parents…and the ink they use is indelible!”
Excerpts taken from “Help For Catholic Parents” by Rev. Fr. Brett Brannen. Used with permission. Visit here for more information about Fr. Brett Brannen’s work.