Thursday, October 8, 2009

Passing on the faith...

Well, I made it through the 5 classes that I had this week. I'm exhausted, but no rest for the weary. I have 2 more next week that I need to plan for, plus I need to get my Catholic behind in gear and finish the book chapter that I have due the second week of November. I'll get there.

Yesterday, while taking my dinner break before my evening reference shift, I was browsing on Amazon and thinking about a topic that has been on my mind lately. That is, passing on my Catholic faith to Henry. I take this very seriously.

Certainly, when he's adult he has to make the faith his own; my prayer is that he does this. There's always the possibility that he will choose to do something else, and when he's adult, I can do nothing but pray for him. But while he's a child, I believe that it is my job to raise him in the faith and show him the beauty of its traditions. In fact, I took a vow to do this during my and Mike's Nuptial Mass. I hope, as all Catholic parents do, I'm sure, that the things that I do now will have a positive impact and cause him to study the faith on his own as an adult and choose to live it out and pass it on to his own children.

A complication in all of this is that my husband is not a practicing Catholic, and I feel a heavy responsibility to be the prime Catholic example for Henry. Mike was raised Catholic (his mother is a weekly Mass-goer; I believe that her prayers and mine were what brought Mike and I together :), has an appreciation for the faith, and is 100% supportive of Henry being raised Catholic. I pray daily for his return to faith; please join me :)

So anyway, I was pondering all of this and thinking about the things I've done so far. Henry is 3, about to be 4 next month. (my baby!) And given his age, I think my efforts have been pretty good with introducing him to the faith. Together, Henry and I:

(1) Attend Mass weekly. There have been short stretches when I didn't take him with me because it was just too hard to keep him quiet for an hour; par for the course with young children. But really, for most of his life, he has come to church weekly. He loves the holy water font, knows how to haphazardly cross himself, puts our envelope in the collection basket, and enjoys walking up in the communion line with me. He also enjoys lighting candles with me in church and receiving an individual blessing from the priest.

(2) Pray the traditional Catholic prayers. He knows the Hail Mary pretty much cold. We're working on the Our Father and the Glory Be. We always pray for daddy when he has a test to take at school, and after communion at Mass we pray for a bunch of people.

(3) Read a children's Bible. Henry received a copy of The Beginner's Bible as a gift, and we read a few stories from it each night before he goes to bed. He loves it, and retains the information to an unbelievable level. He breaks into discussions of poor water-logged Jonah and Daniel with those pesky lions in everyday conversation. And he actually pointed out the Stations of the Cross to me in church the other week and noted how it showed the story of Jesus carrying the cross from his little Bible.

(4) Read Catholic children's books. I got him the St. Joseph's 'Carry-Me-Along' Board Books collection a few years ago, and he still loves them. His favorite is We Go to Mass.

(5) Practice Advent traditions. Last year, I got him an Advent calendar filled with chocolate, and as you can imagine, it was a huge hit. I could barely get in the door from work and he'd be begging to open the little window of the day. I have another for him this year, but I also received a traditional Advent calendar as a gift last year that we can use come December 1st. It's a beautiful wood one, and each day you take out a tiny piece of the nativity scene that you hook on. We can do that together. I also purchased an Advent wreath last year and we lit the appropriate candle(s) each Sunday after dinner.

Ok, so, this is all good. But I would like to incorporate things a bit more into a daily routine, along with the nightly Bible reading. Lots of thoughts pop into my mind - prayers each night? It's tough because Mike is usually the one that takes Henry up to bed. But I put him to bed 2 nights per week while Mike is in class, so I could at least do it then. Grace before meals? We never did that in my house growing up, so even I have not been able to develop this habit.

The rosary is something that I'd really like to develop a daily practice with. Henry knows about the rosary; he's had 2, and broken them both. Now that he's a bit older, I think maybe I should try having us say a decade together each day. And this time, I'm eyeing up a rosary specifically for children, like this one. Super duper extra strength cord.

In my Amazon browsing, I found a book entitled The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Everyday. I'm intrigued. The public library has it, so I'll be hitting that on my way home. Has anybody found this book helpful? Any suggestions for other ways to have a Catholic home? My younger sister recently starting teaching CCD for her parish in North Carolina, and her lessons have been so creative and interesting that it's inspired me to want to take a more proactive approach to my Catholic mothering.

When I was growing up we really didn't do anything special to keep a Catholic home. I'll have to blog about my faith 'reversion,' if you will, in a future post. But suffice it to say that my sisters and I attended Mass twice a year on Christmas and Easter and went to CCD classes because my mom made us. The faith wasn't meaningful to any of us at that time. When I was in high school, my mom came into a deeper union with God and her faith, and my dad converted to become Catholic. We started going to Mass weekly, and then my own faith deepened. So I don't have a real grasp of what things would make a young child appreciate the faith

Thoughts? Suggestions? Please post a comment :)

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