Archive for the ‘Childhood’ Category

Tips for Raising Faith-Filled Children

April 13, 2016
  • Tell your children every day that you love them and that God loves them too.
  • Listen attentively and respectfully to what your child says.
  • Forgive frequently. Ask forgiveness when you have done wrong. Look for the humor in stressful situations and hug often.
  • Ask children to consider “what if…” when dealing  with challenging situations. Help them find creative, peaceful, and moral responses.
  • Tell your child that you pray for them every day and DO it. Thank God for the gifts they are.
  • Share your faith beliefs so your child can understand your hopes. Also share your doubts so they understand that doubts do not overwhelm faith.
  • Bless your child before bedtime by tracing the Sign of the Cross on their foreheads and saying: “God love you and keep you safe” or some other blessing. Teach your child to respond. “Amen.”
  • Encourage your child to value others for who they are – not what they have. Help them to develop Christian virtues and to treat others kindly and with respect.
  • Once a week, have a family night when you “unplug” to play board games, do crafts, read stories, or take time to talk together.
  • Honor family  dinner. The benefits are amazing and establish a sacred time to share the joys and trials of life with each other.
  • Pray before meals, before bed, during holidays and family celebrations, and any time when one needs guidance or comfort.
  • Have a family Bible and read the Gospel passages before Church.
  • Decorate your house for the liturgical seasons with an Advent wreath, purple during Lent, and a prominently placed crucifix.
  • Take time to ponder the beauty of creation with your child. Easter is a wonderful time to appreciate the new life of springtime.
  • During the fall and spring, help your child sort through their clothes and toys to donate to a shelter. Bring the child with you when you drop off your donations.
  • Select a patron saint to watch over your children when they become involved in a sporting activity. Pray to that saint every time they are at a practice or event.
  • Participate in the Catholic Relief  Services Rice Bowl program: read the prayers during Lent, look up the featured countries, and donate coins in the box provided.
  • Introduce your child to older people or those with disabilities in your neighborhood. Find out if they need assistance with chores or shopping.
  • When you can’t physically help someone, pray for them.
  • Choose sporting events that do not conflict with your Sunday Mass attendance.
  • Encourage “secret” good deeds.
  • Contribute to a food bank. Ask your child to help you with the collection and delivery.
  • Watch TV with your child and explain during commercials or afterward what you found to be good, wholesome, and valuable. If you find a program objectionable explain why when changing the channel.
  • Encourage your child to use their God-given talents to serve others.
  • Help your child find ways to participate in the of the parish, such as being an altar server, choir member, greeter, or reader.
  • Invite your parish priest over for dinner.
  • Volunteer in your child’s religious education program or Catholic school.
  • Have the sporting equipment your child uses get blessed.
  • Read stories from the Bible and biographies of saints to your child. Several great videos can also be found online.
  • Ask grandparents, godparents, and extended family to share stories about the family their faith lives.
  • On the anniversaries of your children’s Baptism, light their Baptismal candles and tell stories about that special day.
  • Display religious items in your home, such as a cross, artwork, or a picture of your child’s patron saint. Talk to your child about them.
  • By the way you live, let your child know that life is good, that your values and faith guide your decisions and how you interact with others, and that the happiness you experience is a direct result of your personal relationship with God.

Adapted from the pamphlet “Raising Your Child With Faith” by Cecilia P. Regan.

Advertisements

They Ran For Him — Easter Morning

April 24, 2011

When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early Easter morning, she found the stone removed and the body of Jesus gone. She ran to Peter and John, because her love demanded that something must be done. “They have taken the Lord from the tomb,” she said, “and we don’t know where they put him!” So Peter and John went out and ran to the tomb. They both ran, but John ran faster and arrived at the tomb first; not because he loved Jesus more, but because he was younger than Peter.

Some adults run for exercise, but they are the odd exception. Generally, grown-ups just don’t run; except under special circumstances. For instance, my mother doesn’t jog, but she’ll sprint to answer a ringing phone. She loves her friends and doesn’t want to leave them hanging on the line. So, love can make a grown person run.

One time, when I was a boy, I saw my mother run outside in her nightgown and dive into our swimming pool. My mother saved the life of my younger sister, who was floating there facedown.

In all my life, I can only remember ever seeing my father run once. A few years later, during a family walk around a camping resort in my hometown, where we had never walked before, we came upon a tragic emergency. While Mom did CPR, Dad and I ran for the phone at the front office to call for an ambulance. I ran as hard as I could, but Dad was much faster than my ten-year-old legs. I remember seeing his back, his arms rapidly pumping, and thinking to myself, ‘I had no idea he could move that fast.’ And so, from my youth, I’ve known that for the love of another, or in matters of life and death, adults will run. If something is important to them, they’ll run for it.

Mary Magdalene, Peter and John ran to and from an empty tomb out of concern for a dead man’s corpse. So great was their love for Jesus, so great was their admiration for Him, that they ran for Him, even though they thought He had nothing more to offer them. But we are here this morning because Jesus wasn’t dead. He is risen and still active in peoples’ lives today. (To the latter, I am an eyewitness.) He has much to offer to us, our families, our children. But do we run to Him? Do we run to His Church, His sacraments, worship and teachings; or do we run from them? Whether we run is a question of love, and in a world subverted by sin and temptation in so many ways, it’s a matter of life and death. Jesus is risen. So let’s run to Him.

Wine and Drunkenness — Tuesday, 5th Week of Ordinary Time—Year I

February 8, 2011

“God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. … Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation.”

Everything that God has made is good, but anything can be misused or abused in ways that are wrong. A volleyball-sized amount of Uranium can provide electrical power to 200 U.S. homes for a year, but it can also be used in a single bomb to level a city like Hiroshima. The complimentarily of man and woman is very good.  They were made for each other, but they sometimes use each other in painful and unloving ways.

What about alcohol in its many forms? Is it good or bad? On the one hand, the Scriptures praise God for it as a gift: “You bring bread from the earth, and wine to gladden our hearts.” (Psalm 104:14-15) Yet throughout, the Scriptures also caution about the sin of drunkenness: “…Do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery, [instead] be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) You’ll recall that Jesus provided wine for the wedding feast of Cana, yet He would not be pleased if the guests used His gift for getting trashed.  If we are adults we may only drink alcohol in moderation, and if we are still minors we may only consume it under our parents’ direct supervision. Anything else is misuse, abuse, immoral and dangerous.

But what about illegal or recreational drugs? Can they be used in moderation? No, there is no moderation in this, for the entire goal of using them is to get high, to become intoxicated. If you have never abused drugs or alcohol, I hope you never start; and if you have, I hope you never will again.

Please do not dismiss this teaching as merely the tradition of your elders; for it is God’s command that we should never get drunk or high. God forbids it, just as every good parent forbids it of their children, because getting intoxicated is harmful and dangerous for us. The Scriptures say, “Honor your father and your mother,” and, “Whoever curses father or mother shall die.” Indeed, those who spurn their parents in this can taste sin and death in many forms.

When you’re intoxicated you make dumb decisions. (I don’t know about you, but I already make enough dumb mistakes in a day as it is.) Someone who is drunk or high will do impulsive, stupid things that they would never do otherwise. You lose control of yourself and become vulnerable to others. I don’t want any of you to wake up a morning after, regretting some serious thing done the night before. I don’t want any young woman here to find herself with child, and be tempted to do something terrible.

Imagine which experience would be worse as a consequence of getting intoxicated? To die alone from driving your car off a road into a tree, or to survive a head-on collision that kills a stranger or a friend? Go too far just once and alcohol poisoning or a drug overdose can have you pass out and never wake up again, put you in a coma or make you drown in your own vomit.

Or consider the risk and costs of addiction. Any recovering alcoholic can tell you a story about how much addiction costs, and any smoker can tell you how hard additions are to break. Of course, not everyone who gets drunk or high will become an addict, but some will, and after the first use of certain drugs, addiction is all but certain. With addiction, even if drug or alcohol abuse never sends you to prison, it can still cost you your freedom. And even if drug use never takes your life, it can cost lives of people far away.

Did you know that since 2007 there have been over 35,000 deaths in Mexico from the violence of their organized crime drug cartels? That’s almost ten times the number of American troops who have died in combat since 2001 in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why so much violence? It’s because the Mexican drug cartels make more than one hundred billion dollars a year from selling marijuana and other drugs to Americans, and they will murder or assassinate whoever stands up to them. When we buy their drugs, we’re supporting their terror.

Today I set before you life and death; choose life. If you have never abused drugs or alcohol, I hope you never start; and if you have, I hope you never do again. May no one ever say of Columbus Dons as Jesus said of the Pharisees: their hands are clean in public and ‘they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’

God’s Icon, The Family — Feast of the Holy Family

January 5, 2011

Our Catholic Faith is full of mysteries, but what is a “mystery?” In the world, or in a novel, a mystery can be completely solved once important clues are found. “It was Cornel Mustard, in the Library, with the Candle Stick”–case closed. But in the Church, a mystery is something rather different. Is not something that one more clue could solve, nor something so dark and impenitrable that we can know nothing for certain about it. We can know many things with certainty about Christian mysteries, but they are parts of our Faith which are so rich that we will never completely exhaust them. The Trinity is perhaps the greatest of these mysteries, but by God’s revelation (through words and deeds and created things) truths about the Trinity have been revealed to us. Invisible realities can be known through the things that God has made. One great window into the mystery of the Trinity is the human family.

In the beginning, the Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, took out one of his ribs, and built it into a woman.  When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” The two came together, and brought forth new life.

In the Trinity, the Son is of the Father; “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.” The Son is “begotten, not made,” He is a person from a person; not a lesser, created thing. From the everlasting, mutual self-gift of love shared between the Father and the Son, God the Holy Spirit proceeds.

The human family is an icon of the Trinity, like the icon of Mary and Jesus on our Marian altar. An icon can teach us about, and actually connect us to, the events and holy people they depict; however, it is also possible to misunderstand their metaphor. Gazing and meditating upon the Holy Mother and Child can help us to know them and relate to them better, but it would be foolish to think that they are made of wood and paint like the icon. Not everything found in a human family applies equally to the Trinity, but the family is perhaps the greatest icon of the Trinity, sharing many of its realities.

The Trinity is one; three persons sharing the same divine nature. Jesus said, “The Father and I are one,” and, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Likewise, in the family, husband and wife are one flesh and their children are their very flesh and blood. No matter what, your biological parents and siblings will be related forever, for there is a special oneness to your nature.

There is equality in the Trinity. Jesus accepted peoples’ worship, something only God can justly receive, and the Holy Spirit does the same: “With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified.” Likewise, there is equality (or at least there should be) between husband and wife in marriage. Though there are natural differences between them, the two are equal in dignity.

Though there is equality among the persons of the Trinity, there is also an order among them. Jesus said, “I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me…. The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.” Though equal in dignity, the Son follows the Father’s lead.

Notice in the Gospel how three angelic messages come to Joseph in three separate dreams: first, to flee to Egypt; second, to return to Israel; and third, to settle in Nazareth. Now God could have chosen to send His angel to Mary. He had done it before, Mary would have certainly obeyed God’s command, and Joseph (following her miraculous pregnancy) would have believed her, but that’s not what God did. God wanted Joseph to lead his family, and when Joseph woke his wife up in the middle of the night and said, “Mary, I had a dream–we need to leave, right now.” Mary said, “Ok,” because she knew that he loved her and trusted him. As Mary was to be the heart of their home, Joseph was to be the head of their family.

Mothers and fathers, in sometimes different but complementary ways,  reflect the divine attributes of God. Our moms and dads were distant likenesses of God, but through them we first came to conceptualize about God. Through them we first experience beauty and strength, the firmness of justice and the tenderness of mercy, the immanent love that braces what we are and the transcendent love that calls us to be more.  Parents are icons of God. That is why bad parents can be such a scandal to a life of faith. If our own parents were poor, let us recognize that it is the ideal they failed to live up to, not their behavior, which is the actual likeness of God.

We are all called to marriage, either natural or spiritual. We are all called to raise up biological or spiritual children for God. We are all called to be icons of God. Let us pray for the grace for our own married and parental love to be a worthy icon of the Trinity. That may seem intimidating, but don’t be afraid. You were made for this.

The Child Mary — September 8 – Nativity of Mary

September 8, 2010

Nine months ago we celebrated Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Today we celebrate her birthday. By my estimation, Mary is now about two thousand, twenty-five years old, but if you saw her I’m sure she wouldn’t show her age. How old does Mary seem when you picture her in your mind? I’d bet that you think of her as fully-grown up; like your mom or your teachers. But today’s feast reminds us that she was once your age too.

Mary was little once too, and just because Mary lived a life without sin doesn’t mean that her childhood was a bed of roses. I think adults sometimes forget how hard and stressful things can be when you’re little, but Mary remembers everything perfectly well.

She remembers what it was like to be little like many of you. How she got scared when Nazareth’s big, neighborhood dogs would bark at her. How loud cracks of thunder frightened her at night and made her hide under the covers. She remembers how other girls made fun of her, for being different or weird, and she remembers how she cried. But even when she got sad or scared, Mary knew that she was loved and not alone. Not only did her parents love her, but she was convinced of God’s love, too, and understood that He was never far from her. This consoled Mary and reassured her that everything would be alright.

After our resurrection, when we get glorified bodies like Mary has now, we will have some new abilities. We will be able to go anywhere we want in an instant. And our glorified bodies should allow us to be more than one place at once. (It only makes sense that if saints on earth can bi-locate, then the  saints in Heaven should be able to as well.) And I also suspect that we will be able to change ourselves back and forth to whatever age we choose.

All this is to say that if at any moment you want Mary to be with you for consolation and support, you only need to ask her. Knowing her abundant love, I can’t imagine she would refuse. And when you think of her with you feel free to picture her at your age, even if you’re little. She understands you, loves you, and can relate to your situations more than you know. Like her Son, Mary is always with us, especially when we ask her be.