Our youngest has started preparing for his first Communion. This year our church is doing things a little differently. In addition to the children attending Sunday classes to prepare for reconciliation and taking the Eucharist, the parents are asked to attend a bi-monthly class/potluck aimed at helping us improve our “Home Church.”
Make the Time
Needless to say, time is a precious commodity. Between my hour-plus commute each way and the kids’ extracurricular activities, I’m lucky if I get an hour with my children before putting them to bed each day. Date night with my husband? A distant memory. And now I was being asked to dedicate 4 Saturday nights to learning about the Catholic faith, and find a sitter to boot! After a little attitude adjustment, I was able to convince myself that this could be our chance to have that elusive “date night.” With pie in hand, I set out for our first Faith Engagement dinner, ready to engage.
Get Over Yourself
I can’t lie, many of the things discussed at that first meeting struck a defensive chord in me. The overall concept was that it is up to us as parents to cement in our children the foundation of our faith. I should probably mention that this class was designed for parents of kids who do not attend the Catholic school attached to the church. So, I think the church’s assumption is that the children are not getting a religious education, therefore they need to get religious instruction at home.
Of course, in our case I am confident our kids are getting a religious education because they are enrolled at a Christian school. They are taught daily about God’s love for us by a kind and faithful staff. That’s not to say we should slack off at home because the school has it covered; in fact, quite the opposite. It is our job as parents to show our children how to live fully in Christ’s presence while living in the world, and to hopefully guide others into His light throughout their lives.
Get it Done
Some of the tools mentioned at the class included things we were already doing: reading from the Bible, praying together, listening to faith-based podcasts and music, etc. I thought I had this in the bag. Then I looked more closely at our homework assignment. I kept seeing the word “increase.” As in, “increase your daily prayer life” or “increase your Bible readings.” Uh oh, now we were eating into limited family time. I could feel my blood pressure rising as I envisioned incorporating these important activities into our family’s already-full schedule!
In the end, we decided to have the kids take turns reading from a devotional book while we all ate dinner together. This way they practiced reading aloud, the daily readings had built-in prayers, and we had lively discussions after each devotional that help us grow in faith as a family. Granted, this happened during Advent and we haven’t been doing it since. But growing in faith as a family is important to us, so we plan to get a Lenten devotional and make this a tradition.
So here we are 3 classes into this process. It barely counts as a date night, I see that now, but I will take what I can get. The most important thing is that my kids have a school that reminds them of Christ’s love and sacrifice, a church that desires families of genuine faith, and a good Christian “church” to come home to every night.
Deuteronomy 11:19 - Teach them (God’s laws) to your children. Talk about them all the time—whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning.