(This is part of my 31 days series, Imperfectly Domestic. This week is all about faith in our family.)
There’s no secret about us, we are a faithful-to-the-Magisterium Catholic family. In other words, we follow the Church’s guidance on all things about faith and morals. Ten Commandments? Got it. Weekly Mass attendance? You bet. Pray with the whole family? Sure do, even if sometimes we fall prey to fits of giggles.
Buuuuut…just following all the rules (so to speak, it’s way more than rules and such a rich, full life to be confined to the description of following the “rules”) isn’t enough for us.
Nope. Call us greedy if you must, but we want more.
More grace. More God. More richness.
We yearn for a fuller experience of our faith in our daily lives. We want for every day to be a day which helps us grow closer to Christ.
And, if you’re thinking, “Well, that’s not easy with children…”, you’d be 100% correct. It’s NOT easy. It’s not easy for adults, either, mind you. Getting kids up and ready for Mass, and arriving on time with still-clean clothes sometimes feels like mission impossible. To try for anything more than that? Well, shoot. That’s HARD WORK.
Yup…but not without reward! Remember Jesus saying “Let the children come to me”? You do? Good. Don’t forget it. Remember that especially on the days that the toddler has lost her shoes, the baby is dirtying all the diapers, and the oldest child is stubbornly refusing to comb hair, brush teeth, or change out of jammies. Whatever the hold-up is to getting to Mass on time, with good spirits, let Jesus’ words comfort you with the knowledge that He still wants you and your children to be there with him at Mass. No matter how dirty the diapers, how stubborn the moods, how frazzled the parents…He WANTS you there. So please go and open your hearts to all the graces God is waiting to pour out for you. He knows how much you need them to get through the week! (I often beg shamelessly for extra graces when I know it’s going to be a tough week.)
We’re a work in progress. The expression of faith in our daily life is always changing and growing, and we’re always learning more. There is no way I have all the answers, or even good answers. I take this faith life of ours one day at a time, often just one prayer and one moment at a time. When my kids are sitting and kneeling angelically for morning prayer, throughout the entire Mass, and then still at bedtime prayers, you might ask me then what my best tips are. But since we don’t yet kneel during our family morning prayer (a habit I hope to begin soon), and wriggly, growing boys struggle to be still for an hour, my stories are more about how we’re still struggling, still learning, and constantly relying on God’s merciful graces to make up for what we’re sorely lacking.
The best way to begin deepening faith in your family?
Pray. Pray to know God’s will. Pray for the Holy Spirit to increase your desire to know and love Him. Pray for you and your husband to be united in your faith and sharing the Truth with your children. Pray for your children to know God’s Truth and follow it. Pray for yourself to be so filled up with God’s love that it spills over and into every part of your life and especially in your relationships with your family. Pray with your husband. Pray with your children. Just pray.
As Catholics, we have a rich tradition of prayer! Start simple, though. Don’t get high hopes of kneeling as a family and reciting the rosary every evening. It’s not going to happen like that right away. Choose one or two basic prayers, and teach them to your children. Pray them together, and add in a few special family prayers of thanksgiving. If you have a favorite saint, ask their petition as well, and you’ve got yourself a family patron saint. In time, you and your children will grow accustomed to spending time in prayer together. Occasionally, fits of giggles still upset the otherwise calm mood…but if God doesn’t have a sense of humor and smile along with you, then I’d be surprised! He is the source of all joy, after all, so when giggles erupt during our prayers, my husband and I add in a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the joy and laughter we can share as a family.
Another great way to deepen our faith is to live the liturgical year in our home.
We celebrate more than just Easter and Christmas in our home. During Advent, we create an Advent wreath, light the candles and pray nightly before dinner with a special booklet. Recently we added a Jesse tree to our Advent celebrations, and leave decorating the big tree for closer to Christmas. There are dozens of rich Advent and Christmas traditions, many of which help our experience and understanding of the season grow. Those other traditions–beyond the Christmas tree–kick-started more liturgical celebrations in our home. We choose other solemnities, feasts, and saints’ days to celebrate, as well. One year we had a special cake for Pentecost. Many months we remember saints’ feast days with a special meal. We recall Marian feast days with prayers, flowers, and special desserts. Each of these things helps us embrace the richness of our faith, grow in our understanding and knowledge, and make our faith really come alive in our family.
Pray and celebrate the liturgical year. Also, don’t give up. Some days, even some entire seasons might feel “off”, might feel like you are going through the motions. Do not give up. God knows your heart, knows your desire, knows your struggles. Your efforts will bear fruit for your family!