by Thomas J. Centrella
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Thy Word. Psalm 119:9
How can we as Catholic parents help our children keep their way pure when they go out into the world? This is the third in a series of articles on seven practices that can help our children—as well as ourselves—stay on the right path.
Today, we will discuss the fourth and fifth of these seven practices: Devotion to Mary through the Daily Rosary, and Charity and Service to Others.
4. Devotion to Mary through the Daily Rosary
And a great portent appeared in Heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars…” (Revelation 12:1).
We are not alone in our fervent desire to help our children remain true to their Catholic Faith. The Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, earnestly desires their salvation as well, and she can show them how to stay close to Jesus throughout their lives. Our Lady has given us a wonderful way to increase our devotion to her and, at the same time, meditate on the mysteries of her Son’s life: the Rosary.
The Rosary is, as my pastor says, a “weapon of mass construction.” Making a commitment to pray the Rosary every day was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Encouraging our children to make this same commitment can help them place themselves under the protection of Our Mother, Mary.
Remember, Jesus is both God and Man. As Man, He is perfectly obedient to the Ten Commandments, including the Fourth Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” When the Son of God honors His Mother, she is esteemed above all other creatures on Heaven and Earth. Let us then imitate Our Lord by honoring His Mother as our Mother and Queen.
The power of the Rosary cannot be overstated. Our Lady has given us this beautiful prayer to help us grow in sanctity and to protect us from the snares of the devil. By meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, which are taken from the lives of Jesus and Mary, our children can be further immersed in the mind of Christ and can truly model themselves after Him. At the same time, they can grow in their devotion to Our Blessed Mother, who so dearly loves them and longs for their salvation.
Along with the daily Rosary, a daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy (which takes only 5-10 minutes to pray) can also be very helpful. Now, more than ever, we need to run to the Lord’s mercy and trust in Him. Jesus, I trust in Thee!
5. Charity and Service to Others
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-14).
Service to others is an important part of being a Christian, and instilling this practice in our children can help them grow into compassionate, caring servants of God. However, we must not fall into the trap of thinking that serving others always means going to the far corners of the world. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was certainly an authority on what it means to serve others, affirmed the common-sense truth that love and service must begin at home.
The root and aim of our service should be the charity that God calls us to have for one another. Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). There is no real love without a willingness to sacrifice. Jesus also said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). There is also no real love without obedience to God’s Laws. Thus, the two pillars of true Christian charity are obedience and sacrifice—and obedience is the greater of the two.
When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He showed that loving others isn’t always accompanied by soft violins and twinkling stars; it can be messy, hectic, and, yes, smelly! Having the older children, both the boys and the girls, help in the many tasks that are involved in family life can benefit them in their walk with Christ (while also lightening our own burden).
At the same time, we should encourage some form of service outside the home, at least for our older children. I recommend that we as parents do this service together with them, at least initially. This will help ensure that our children are in a wholesome environment, while also providing an opportunity for us to bond with them.
However, we should remind our children that their duties at home (including doing their homeschooling) must always come first. The same is true of us as parents. If it is not practical to do service outside the home during certain periods in our life, because of the many demands we face, then we should limit this “service” to prayer and, if possible, financial donations.
Contemplative nuns don’t do acts of service outside their “home” either, because their vocation does not allow them to do so, but they still serve the community through their prayer and penance. The same can be true of Catholic parents striving to raise their family according to the Church’s teachings, including being open to the transmission of human life. To be more precise, if you have seven children, and you’re struggling just to stay afloat, this would not be an ideal time for you to embark on service outside the home. However, we can always practice Christian charity, both inside and outside the home, even if it be only a kind word, a polite gesture, or a listening ear.
Teaching our children the value of tithing their money to the Church, worthwhile charities, and individuals in need is also important, and it can be another way to practice “service” outside the home without actually leaving the home to do so.
Thus far, we have discussed five practices that can help our children—as well as ourselves—stay on the right path. Next time, we will discuss something that is truly integral to each of these five practices, and indeed to our entire Catholic Faith: Cultivation of a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Daily Mass and Weekly Eucharistic Adoration
- Frequent Confession
- Immersion in the Mind of Christ, Not the World
- Devotion to Mary through the Daily Rosary
- Charity and Service to Others
- Cultivation of a Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ
- Daily, Reverent Reading of Sacred Scripture