"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
Just as one is never too old to learn, our children are also never too young to be formed in the Catholic faith.
From the moment they are baptized into the Catholic Church, our children become members of the body of Christ. So as you tuck them into bed with a whispered prayer that God keep them safe; as your gently move their tiny hand to make the sign of cross on their forehead, chest, and shoulders; as you hang that children's cross on their bedroom wall, remember that they are already absorbing the importance of God in their lives.
Doing Small Things with Great Love
People are always talking about incorporating faith into our everyday lives, making our homes a “domestic church,” and raising children with strong foundations in Church teachings. But when you’re helping your 3rd-grader with his remote learning classes, trying to keep your toddler from eating the cat food, and doing Zoom work calls from your bedroom closet, perhaps the only prayer your children have heard you saying lately is “God help me.” But like everything else, the key is to take it one day at a time, not to be too ambitious, and to prescribe to St. Thérèse de Lisieux’s “Little Way” philosophy to become a saint: “Do small things with great love.”
Here are some simple, little habits, traditions, and ideas that can help to bring God into our homes and our children’s hearts:
- Even before you get the kids out of bed, say a morning offering with them like “Good morning, dear Jesus. This day is for you. We ask that you bless, all we think, say, and do” or “I give to you my Lord this day; All I do, think, and say.”
- Over breakfast or as you go around the house opening the window blinds, start with a statement of praise on the gift of the day like, “What kind of beautiful day did God give us?” and encourage positive responses no matter what the weather, such as “a sunny play day,” “a cloudy cozy day,” or “a snowy blanket day.”
- When you’re helping your children on with their shoes in the morning, make a Sign of the Cross on the toe of each shoe and pray “May God guide your steps.”
- There is usually a donation bin right next to the supermarket exits. Teach your children about donating to the needy by having them pick out a small food item (remember, this needn’t be a prime rib!) to place in the bin.
- When you hear a police, fire, or ambulance siren, pray for those in whatever distress with a simple Sign of the Cross or a short “Hail Mary full of grace, to the suffering please make haste!”
- Celebrate the feast day of the saint your child is named for or the anniversary of his/her baptism. It’s a great opportunity to talk about living a saintly life. Have a special dessert or decorate with paper crosses.
- Light a candle at dinnertime or prayer times to help your family remember that Jesus is the Light of the World.
- Find ways to sneak Scripture into the everyday. If you have a child who often gives up easily on tasks, encourage him/her with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Or when something good happens, make a habit of exclaiming “All good things come from our Father above!”
- Instead of hanging a cross up high over a bed or a doorway, hang it low in your child’s room so they can kiss it good night before bedtime.
- When you’re tucking your babies in at night, ask them what they are most thankful for that day. Point them to God “who gives us everything we have and knows what we need.”
This compilation of tips have been collected from several sources. Check out:
Franciscan Media's Baby's First Prayers: https://www.franciscanmedia.org/faith-and-family/teach-me-to-pray-babys-first-prayers-at-bedtime
The Gift of Baptism: https://www.catholicmom.com/articles/the-gift-of-baptism
Signs and Symbols of Baptism: https://www.catholicmom.com/articles/2018/08/14/signs-and-symbols-of-baptism/
Preparing for Your Child's Baptism: https://www.catholicmom.com/articles/2014/09/24/preparing-for-your-childs-baptism
Aleteia's 5 Great Podcasts for Catholic Kids: https://aleteia.org/2019/07/26/5-great-podcasts-for-catholic-kids/
Catholic Sprouts Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/38WA3djuSkII5M3p1GyN6S
Catholic Sprouts Podcast YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm7nk3SkLtg0bYbSkXF6qTQ
Saints Stories for Kids: https://luminarypodcasts.com/listen/shining-light-dolls/saint-stories-for-kids/ep-102-st-kevin/ecda06e8-6d26-4ba8-aad3-6d54b7350749
Orla's Book Corner
Our parish is blessed to have our very own registered therapy dog in attendance at many of our children's read-aloud sessions, walking group strolls, and other dog-friendly events. Orla is an eight-year-old Golden Retriever whose human happens to be Kate McGrath, Pastoral Associate and Faith Formation Coordinator for OLA Grades K-8. Because Orla wants to share her many adventures with others, Kate has written down some of her stories in short, read-aloud books that are great introductions to the richness of our Catholic faith and what they mean to our daily lives.
Please feel free to download these mini-books and share them with others.