Sunday, July 8, 2012

It Begins at Home

Faith starts in the home. If we truly care about our children then we must truly give them a firm foundation to stand on. What's firmer than a rock? Christ needs to be welcomed back into the hearts and homes of America (and the rest of the world for that matter). It all begins at home. It's not enough to send your child to CCD or Mass and not attend yourself. I mention this because it used to drive my former pastor crazy. People were constantly "dumping" their children at CCD and not attending Mass themselves or the family gathering sessions for faith formation. He was right, too. We'd see a number of folks dropping their children off  and walking over to Bagel Alley next door. No matter how many times he'd stress the importance of example they'd continue to do it. It frustrated him to no end. Not everyone did this of course but quite a significant number. The 9:00 AM Mass was deliberately lined up so that families could all attend Mass together and then walk over to the center for CCD for the kids and Bible Study for the adults. The church should have been packed, one would think, but it never was. And at one point Randy and I were the only two people attending the Bible Study class. 

They eventually made the family gathering sessions mandatory because barely anyone was showing up. Some folks thought this was over the top but how else could the priests and religious education teachers prepare the children for the Sacraments? As the head of Religious Ed. use to tell my mom and I all the time (when we were cleaning the center), "The parents need the classes almost as much as the children, if not worse."

I understand that we live in a very secular age and that this "secularization" of society has been catchy. Sort of like a virus that gets passed from person to person. But there's a cure for this virus and it begins in the home. 

Randy and I are far from being perfect parents but we are genuinely striving to give our child a firm foundation to stand on. Sometimes it feels as if we are constantly pushing against  waves of anti-Catholic sentiment or trying to swim through the morass of "junk" this secular society continues to toss at everyone but thankfully we can turn to the God who "walks on water" and trust Him to steer us in the right direction.

So how can families bring God back into their homes?

I thought this article gives a wonderful example on how to do this: The Domestic Church: 7 Steps to a Proper Catholic Home.


  1. Great post Mary,
    everyone needs to think about this.

  2. Mary,
    I can speak to the detriment of this first hand. My Dad was never one for attending Mass. Once my sister and I were old enough to walk the tree blocks to church on our own, she would send us off with the envelopes and tell us if we didn't feel like going to at least drop off the envelopes. (which I am sorry to say we often did)I love my parents and thank them for at least sending us to Catholic school, because I truly believe it was those good Sisters of St Joseph who planted the seeds of faith and my love for God in me.
    We need more parents like you and Randy and the others who set a good example for their children's spiritual growth.
    I think I mentioned this elsewhere, but studies show that when Dad attends Mass regularly, the children are more likely to stay in the Church than if just Mom attends. So... Randy, you rock ! :)

  3. This is a very thought provoking post. It points to a real and serious problem in our church.

    When my son was in PSR while we were on military bases I would have loved something while he was in class, but that is me. I do reflect that too often the quality of these parent programs isn't engaging (I went to one once where the tone was scolding and judgemental)...And some people are genuinely too busy...I wonder if signing papers committing to attending Mass, to family prayer, to faith study each year would have greater impact. Surely some people who signed such papers would try to follow through.

    It is easy to get on my moral high horse and feel superior and judgemental of others, but what I really hope and pray for is to bring them all along with me to heaven. Because I really hope for heaven and I hope that it is full and not empty!

  4. There's no point having a Leader who walks on water if we are not prepared to follow Him.

    That priest was correct. Priests should stand firm against wrong-doings and if it takes to making attendance compulsory then he was right.

    A priest has great responsibility towards his sheep. When he meets St Peter he will be asked; "And what percentage of your followers did you manage to bring to Heaven?"

    If only a small percentage of the people whom the priest was responsible for end up in Heaven; then it's doubtful that the priest deserves a place there. The job he took on for God is simple: Get people to Heaven.

    Parents have a responsibility too. Like saying prayers together as a family mornings and nights. Doing the sign of the Cross before meals, attending Mass together.

    You and Randy are doing a great job, Mary. But you're in the minority.

    God bless.

  5. Thank you dear one for sharing. Hugs to you this Sonday.

  6. This struck lots of chords in me. My experience was quite similar to Karinann's... I was dropped off at Sunday Mass by my dad, who would come back to get me an hour later. Neither of my parents were church-goers. I am THANKFUL that they sent me to Catholic school, however (it was a good one, where I learned truth), and that I'm "of an age" to have grown up in a culture that actually encouraged Christian values and morality. It is quite different today... I shudder to think of children facing into this world without parental role models of faith. It's tough enough even with them. Thank God I married a strong, devout Catholic, who has served as a fantastic model of holy parenthood for our children. And for me!

  7. Hi Mary! Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I haven't had my computer this week, just my "smart" phone so I haven't really been able to do much with emails, etc. But I did get your email and I will get back to you as soon as I'm back from my trip. Was thinking of you today at mass. The parish I used to go to here is very alive. I saw at least 5 families with no less than 4 kids (one had six and another 7), and they have a wonderful community. It was heartening.

  8. Hi Madeleine,
    Thanks for commenting. Even if families just took one step at a time I think it would help. The priest I mentioned in this story passed away last year and I am sure he is interceding for his parish. He was a very good priest and we miss him.

  9. Hi Karin,
    My parents were pretty good in this area. We went to Catholic schools for a while but then to public schools. They brought the whole lot of us to church every single week and taught us to pray at home too. My mom said my dad used to "drag" her to daily Mass when they were She's thankful for it now but wasn't so much when they were young.

    Things fell apart in our family later on and went downhill from there. Eventually, all of us fell away from the Church when my dad got sick. Gradually we stopped attending Mass as a family. They used to send us by ourselves as teenagers but that stopped after a while too. Almost all of us are back though :)

    Thankfully we all received the Sacraments and a firm Catholic base before things got really bad.

    I still have the Crucifix that was in my room as a child. I took it with me wherever I moved. My Rosary beads too. Weird when you consider I stopped attending Mass but they were important to me.

  10. Hi Mary,
    I think what the pastor and the head of R.E. were trying to do was to get people more involved in the religious upbringing of the kids. Maybe some families didn't like it but they went:) Every family in the Parish was welcome to come, even those who had children in Catholic schools or who homeschooled. Those in CCD were required to attend though.

    I thought it was a good idea and the kids seemed to enjoy it. Michaela loved the family gathering sessions. I did too.

    I agree about wanting to see everyone in heaven!

  11. Hi Grace :) Hugs to you too, my friend!

  12. Hi Nancy,
    " It is quite different today... I shudder to think of children facing into this world without parental role models of faith. It's tough enough even with them."

    Exactly. The world is a tough place to be right now and it's even tougher without knowing God and being able to turn to Him. I pray my daughter doesn't fall away when she's older but I know it could happen. Not while she lives under our roof though. She's young right now so she's going to be under our roof for a long time still ;)

  13. Hi Victor,
    I think you are right on target with this comment. Father K. took his job seriously and was a very good priest.
    Did some people think he was too firm? Probably, but in the long run they will likely thank him for it. Father has already met Saint Peter and at least he could say, "I tried!"

  14. Hi Maria,
    That's okay - I saw your post and knew you were gone :) I hope you are enjoying your trip!

    I think I might get bitten by a few people for saying this but Kansas is a far cry from the Northeast. Things seem worst here in general. Still, the Parish we belong to now is filled with families! I'm in awe and love to see it. So, I have great hope for my state!

  15. Mary, you are wonderful example, and I hope this gets passed on.

    Unfortunately, I have seen parents that need the teachings more than their kids ... and while I commend them for at least giving their kids a good start, it pains me to watch them not be able to continue their kid's education at home. (Or worse, steer it the wrong way)

    My prayers go out for those parents and families ... that God may help guide them back to His path.

    Gob Bless you.

  16. Kids learn a lot more by our actions than by our words, or the words of others. If the parents don't attend mass, then I doubt CCD or Catholic school helps much.

    I'm sure its hard for the powers that be in parishes. If you require classes and they are mediocre to bad then folks complain that you are wasting their time; if you make them challenging, then folks are insulted that you dare to judge them. Too academic and one group complains; too "touchy-feely" and another group complains.

  17. I loved reading this Mary. You are right about it starting in the home. When we first moved to the town we live in, 6 of our children stared at the local Catholic school. The catholic education our children have received was not at all as we thought it should be. Now we have 1 child at the catholic school, 1 being home schooled and the rest in public school. We are taking on the job of educating them all ourselves in the Catholic faith.

  18. Thanks Mary. I like that website, too. I'm going to fill up our holy water font now, thanks for the reminder. Oh, our pastor saw the same problem too so he made all the parents attend our own Sacrament Preparation Classes so that we know how important it is to set an example to our children to receive them. Then he told us we always have to be one step ahead of them to learn about Eucharist/Confession because they will keep asking questions.

  19. Thanks for this post, Mary. We really need priests who build up the Body of Christ by requiring parents with kids in religion class to attend something related themselves. Your pastor was a wonderful, holy man.

    One thing I would like to see emphasized from the pulpit is that as Catholics we must spend our lifetime loving and learning our Faith and sharing it with others. Are we slaves to the world or slaves to Christ?

  20. Hi Michael,
    Thank you for your comment. Sometimes I think that simply starting by saying grace before a meal and children seeing their parents praying (and praying with children) is enough to get things started in the right direction. Other things will branch out from there.

    God bless you, too :)

  21. Hi RAnn,
    You have a good point there. I don't think CCD or Catholic schooling help as much as they would if the entire family attended Mass together. I think those were our pastor's thoughts on it too and his reasoning behind making the family gathering sessions mandatory.

    Your second paragraph made me smile and think of how impossible it must be to please so many different people!

  22. Hi Therese,
    Some Catholic schools are very good, others not so great. One of my friends sent her daughter to Catholic schools for ten years and her daughter learned very little about the faith. Strange, huh?

    We don't have a Catholic school near us. But even if we did I'm not sure I'd send her - it would depend on the school. I like teaching my daughter about God - I just wish she liked hearing it as much as I like teaching She loves saints though! That's got to be a good sign ;)

  23. Hi Anabelle,
    Your pastor required attendance too? I think it's a good idea - especially before receiving the Sacraments.

    I liked the website too. Good ideas for Catholic families!

  24. Hi Barb,
    I thought he was a very good priest. You never, ever, saw liturgical abuses in his church, that's for sure.

    I agree about learning our Faith well! Sharing it too, if others will listen.