by Ray Martin
You know the people with the bumper stickers, the rosaries on their rear view mirrors, the one’s who don’t have cable TV and spend too much time helping out at the soup kitchen? They even go to midnight Mass for Christmas, what is up with those WEIRDOS!?! Well they’re probably a strong Catholic family which is so counter-cultural that it seems flat out strange. It takes more than a bobble-head of Jesus on your dash to be an effective Catholic family and that’s what we’re highlighting, the qualities that make a Catholic family great!
A Family Life Worth Repeating
In their book, Discovering God Together, Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek offer ways to raise children to be faithful Catholic Adults. They say that parents must “give (their children) an example of Catholic family life that is worth repeating in adulthood.”
- Parents have to offer a home life experience that appears to be better, not perfect, but more honest, intimate, generous and joy filled than their non-Catholic friends experience.
- Children have to come to understand that it is their parents’ love for Jesus Christ and their Catholic faith that are responsible for that experience.
This is obviously going to be a home life that looks very different than a secular or even non-Catholic but Christian household.
Rituals And Routines
Fortunately, our Catholic faith offers a liturgical calendar full of feast and holy days which become the rhythm of our lives. They help us keep a tempo for the seasons of our spirituality touching all of the important aspects of our life in Christ. This regular and repeated activity provides the opportunity for us to bond with one another and our community through the rituals of annual holidays, special celebrations of sacraments, and growth in discipleship. This repetition forms strong and healthy attachment of children to their parents, a significant factor that will cause them to turn to their parents in times of trouble or to make good decisions as teens and adults.
Attachment is an emerging term in parenting and when children have healthy attachment with their parents, they go to them when they have problems. They also make good decisions for themselves because they have good self-esteem. What we see so often in children today however is low feelings of self-worth and rather than make good decisions, they turn to anything that will make them feel better in the moment. Healthy attachment is a huge factor in helping children grow up to be successful adults. So when we talk about routines in the church that provide people comfort, it’s because those repeated holidays, seasons, and traditions drive the attachment of children with their family.
Work, Play, Talk, Pray
- Strong Catholic families work together in daily chores and projects around their home and community.
- Playing together with fun activities like game nights or special celebrations like birthdays help bond the family’s relationships.
- Catholic parents talk with their children and are considered to be spiritual directors of the household.
- Regular rituals of prayer such as mealtimes or bedtime blessings in addition to weekly Mass.
Worshiping together weaves your faith throughout your daily life connecting God with your family.
In Summary Great Catholic Families:
- Worship Together– The Eucharist is our source of love we celebrate at Mass together.
- Pray Together– we live out our faith everyday through our relationship with God and our family.
- Are Intimate– being open and loving with one another.
- Put Family First– our family life is the most important activity in our week.
- Are A Witness & Sign– God changes the world through the example of our families.
Take these five examples of ways to make your family great and go change the world!
Sources: Discovering God Together by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcek