There are many ways a parent can pass on the faith to their children, the best way is to pray often yourself, as their parent, and they will learn by example. Beyond that there are endless opportunities to teach them about the Lord, and to allow them to experience a personal relationship with God. But, I will caution you that not all of the traditional prayers or practices are fun, at least not to start out with. I remember cursing quietly to myself many Sundays while trying to contain an unruly toddler during mass. The unchurchable age does exist. At times the pity party I had for myself was so bad, I felt after mass that I should head directly toward the confessional! But the beautiful thing about that is, children grow up, and if you do continue to take them to mass, and expect them to behave, and show them how to behave, they eventually will! I am ever so proud when I go to church with my family now, because the naughty ones are outnumbered, and we can usually as a team, successfully stay in the pew for the majority of the service! I love to sing, and even though I really can’t carry a tune myself, I try to fill our lives with as much inspirational music as possible! In the car we listen to the classical station, or a CD of children’s music. Our favorite CD is called Cat Chatit’s great because the kids LOVE it, but the music is well done, and very singable for adults as well. I really don’t mind getting any of these songs stuck in my head:) And as much as possible we join in on the children’s choir at our parish. They say singing is praying twice!
Traveling is a great time to talk to your children about prayer! We love to go check out other churches, cathedrals, and pilgrimage sites. My all time favorite story was when I had to drag the family across town to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. I had never been there before, and although I had heard it was beautiful and amazing, I had no expectation of what we would find when we got there! The only other Shrine I had been to at that point was Pious Union in Grasslake, which has this little grotto where you can go to pray.
My family was tired after many days of sightseeing, and I was trying to get them to have this religious experience in the 140 degree heat! They weren’t thrilled! When we got there we were shocked to see the enormity of the place. If you get a chance to go, do yourself a favor and allow some time to see it all and spend some time there. They have eucharistic adoration, and I don’t know how many (70?) tiny little chapels that have artwork from the many apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Mostly mosaics, but many different art mediums were used in the gorgeous depictions from around the world. My favorite one was, of course, Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is breathtaking.
Even if you never make it to the National Shrine, you can see all of it on their website which has a virtual tour. I also like to make my home beautiful and I love to have many religious articles around to catch my eye when I am feeling troubled. I have icons, I have pictures, scripture verses, all.over.the.place. It’s not for everyone, but even if you have a favorite Saint, or image of Christ, or Our Lady, these things can remind you who you are, while your children are continually trying to convince you otherwise! Repeat after me: I am not a crazy person, I am a child of the King!
Here is a little statue of Our Lady that my daughter Cana found at a homeschool sale. I wasn’t going to buy it for her because I figured she would just break it and we would all be SO SAD! But she loved it so much, I had to give in. She convinced herself that it is “her saint!” Super cute.
For your more kinesthetic learners, you could teach your kids the grapevine dance, or any traditional Hebrew step dances, in the Bible there are several places that reference dancing as a way to worship God. Why not? Here my dear Mom teaches the grandkids how to dance and sing “Hine Ma Tov, Behold How Good and Pleasant it is When Brethren Dwell together, in Unity!”
Especially during Lent it is really nice to make yourself a “Stations of the Cross Box!” Even an old shoebox will do fine. Put something as a symbol for each station, we used nails, band-aids, a crucifix, a rope, a mini cloth with Jesus’ face on it for when Veronica wipes Christ’s face, you get the idea, so that when you are praying the stations, the children each get a turn to pull something from the box. They love it very much. They ASK to pray the stations!
Even the youngest child can pray the rosary, or the Divine Mercy Chaplet! Get them a special rosary, and set parameters, like you may color or build a rosary with Legos while we pray, but you may not leave the room! This way even if they are not able to fully join in by saying all the prayers, they will learn the prayers, and benefit from the graces of a family prayer time together. We just accomplished our first Novena (nine days of praying a rosary for a specific intention). It was very overwhelming to me, so I took a relaxed approach and didn’t pray our Novena in nine days straight, just in nine days over the course of two weeks. We prayed mostly in the morning directly after breakfast, but when folks were particularly squirrelly, we just stopped and resumed at another opportune time, like when the baby was sleeping, or after the littles went to bed, I would allow the kids to “stay up” and pray with me and Dad, and then we would watch Cake Boss together and eat popcorn.
You all already know how much I love Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, but will say it again! I love the Montessori Method! I love that my kids are learning their faith through simple presentations, with plenty of opportunity to meditate on scripture, and really take the Word to heart. Sophia Cavalletti called it and Education to wonder! Here you see Cana in Level I Atrium working with the Nativity and the Adoration of the Shepherds, for the millionth time this semester. She is very drawn to the baby Jesus, and what four year old isn’t? She can work with it again and again, and memorize this beautiful story of our Lords birth. Siah, who is six, is learning his Maxims, by making a book. He is feeling very accomplished, and even though he drags his feet during the process, you should see the smile of contentment on this little rascals face when his work is completed, after many weeks of work, and he gets to bring it home, and recite the Maxims for his family!
A fun tradition that my husbands family has passed down to us is the preparation of a Nativity Play each Christmas. We have collected fun costumes, and have a blast putting together an impromtu show. The children are in charge, and they sing several songs as they act out the story. What a wonderful memory for your whole family, never let them forget the real meaning of Christmas!!
This is the song that we have been using to memorize the books of the Bible. It is a really nice thing to know all the books of the Holy Bible, and where to find them! When I was in grade school Sister Sarah Burdick and Sister Gail Lancaster and Sister Dorcee Cleary among others took the time to teach us the books of the Bible Song, and I couldn’t forget them now, even if I wanted to! And for that I am very thankful!
May God Bless you, in all your hard work trying to share your faith in God. The children you are loving and disciplining and shepherding are Gods handiwork, and you are their pastor in the domestic church of your home. If you pray for me, I will pray for you. Please share any ideas you may have for imparting the faith to our youngsters!