Honest, hard truth moment? It’s not easy raising a Catholic family.The beauty of free will–that amazing gift that makes us in God’s image–is also hard to accept. It’s hard to teach and share the things of our faith, when children grumble and act bored. It’s hard to pass on the faith, when sometimes, our children use that God-given free will and reject it.
Even with half a dozen children (and whatever experience that gives me), I don’t know yet all the twists and turns my children’s faith journeys will take. We haven’t yet faced difficult outside pressures, college days, or deep internal struggles. We haven’t faced tragedy, the kind that makes one question God’s plan and faithfulness. I don’t know all the ways we might face doubts, or incredible surges of faith growth.
I do know the ache in a mother’s heart when a child questions the faith, doubts God’s love, and wonders why it all matters.It pains me when I can’t answer questions with beautiful words that quickly bring a child’s heart back to God. I know the struggle with toddlers and wiggly preschoolers who just can’t be bothered or would rather sprinkle brothers with Holy Water than learn to make the Sign of the Cross and bless themselves with it. Countless Sundays, I’ve spent a good portion of the Mass correcting and convincing and walking and comforting and trying desperately to bring my children’s’ attention to the altar. And we pray nightly as a family! And I homeschool and teach the faith! And, and, and…
Free will. My kids use it, and it’s not always to choose what is best, what is true, what is good. (Though neither do I, sometimes.)
It’s hard raising a faithful Catholic family. Mine isn’t “magazine worthy” nor even is it blog worthy much of the time (radio silence of late, remember? These stories aren’t all mine to tell.) My family is God’s family, though, and He willed and loved us all into being and chose us for each other. This family is meant to be, and we’re Catholic, and we’re practicing, faithfully.
And free will leads us to practice well and to practice poorly. (Thank goodness for the Sacraments to bring us back when we’ve done poorly).
To return to the point–isn’t free will so much more treasured when a mother has the opportunity to witness her child choose God?
When a child digs into Scripture, because he wants to? Oh, the joy. The joy.
It’s even better than when my veggie-hater eats a salad willingly.
I don’t know the secret to giving a child a love of Scripture.I only know how to set an example, how to make it accessible, how to make it familiar.
We pray nightly as a family. We sometimes read the Sunday Gospels together. Recently I printed a list of daily Bible verses to read, one each day, together as a family. I read and pray with Scripture most mornings, and often when the kids are already awake (which means they see me taking time with God’s Word).
Beyond this, and frequenting Mass and the Sacraments, what is there? There is God. There is the movement of the Holy Spirit in a child’s soul, and there is free will.
Lord, guide these children! Draw them to you faithfully! May my children’s hearts be drawn to You so lovingly that they choose You. May they grow to use their free will to choose love and truth and goodness. Amen.