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Our Best Family Faith Formation Ideas: Catholic Bloggers and Parents Share

 

What’s your best family faith formation practice…the one you do well, or the one you’re most proud of having figured out? That’s the question we put to a handful of Catholic bloggers and parents on the PB & Grace Parents Facebook group. Here’s what they said.

 

What’s your best family faith formation practice…the one you do well, or the one you’re most proud of having figured out? That’s the question we put to a handful of Catholic bloggers and parents on the PB & Grace Parents Facebook group. Here’s what they said.

We’ll start with four ideas from our Catholic blogger friends, and then share ideas from fourteen parents.

 

Persevere in the family rosary (despite the sighs)

Christine Henderson, speaker and storyteller at PlayingwiththeSAINTS.com

Praying the rosary is tough to do on a regular basis, but the rewards are worth it. I am a mom of six kids who now range from twenty-one to eleven. Our family started praying the family rosary when my oldest was seven and we have been doing it most nights ever since.

I have one son who went through a “difficult” teenage phase. It is a requirement in our family that if you are home when we pray the rosary, you must join us. When this child hit his teenage years he would come in, flop on the couch, sigh, and sit there during the rosary—definitely in a NON-prayerful attitude. You can make a child be present at prayer time but you can’t make them pray. I felt like he was a bad example to his other siblings and often my husband and I talked about whether we should make him still be present. But with the encouragement of our priest, we persevered. This son’s attitude lasted several years. Frequently he would argue with us about why we needed to say the rosary. Unknown to us, God was showering graces upon our son during our nightly ritual.

Slowly our son’s sighs dissipated and his body language improved. He is now at the end of his teenage years and prays the rosary devoutly on his knees every night. If he isn’t home due to his work schedule when we say the rosary, he prays it on his own.

So parents, please don’t give up when the going gets tough. The devil will be constantly after you to stop praying the rosary together as a family. If you persevere, your family will be showered with graces…though you may not see what those graces are in this life.

 

Simple Stories Hold Kids’ Attention

Adrienne Thorne, mom of two little boys and blogger at Thorne in the Flesh TV and Movie Reviews

I’m a firm believer that it’s never too early to start forming our kids in the faith. But when they’re very young, sometimes it’s not that easy to even keep their attention.

My three-year-old, truly his mother’s son, is a big fan of stories, so we discovered that instructing him in the faith using stories is actually quite effective. This year as Easter approached, we told him “stories” about what we were celebrating during the Triduum and on Easter. Now, months later, he’s occasionally still asking us for “one of those Jesus stories” and is becoming more and more attentive during the Mass readings. I’m officially convinced that simple stories are one of the most effective ways to teach small children.

 

Evangelize Your Kids in the Car

Michelle Gelineau, founder of Give Him 5 prayer ministry

Whether you drive a Subaru hatchback or a 14-passenger monster van, it makes no difference. Either one can be transformed into an evangelizing, faith-sharing, Scripture-teaching prayer center on wheels.

Make your time together happy and light. Regardless of how much tension there may have been while getting ready, once the wheels start turning, begin anew. Put on your liveliest sing-song voice and lead everyone in prayer with, “Good morning! We are going to thank the Lord for this beautiful day! Who has something they want to thank Jesus for?”  You can begin and let everyone else chime in.

Then say something like, “OK everyone, who has something they want to pray about this morning?” Let each person add their own intentions out loud. Perhaps you have a lesson that you’re going over in your faith formation class or something you want to teach. You could also learn the St. Michael Prayer, the books of the Bible, talk about what Father spoke about on Sunday in his homily, or put on a Christian song and sing. Laugh and enjoy the time learning together.

Those are the moments you want to seize. Those are the times that you don’t want to be filled with crabbiness and rushing to get to one place or another. Don’t zone out when you get in the car. Use it as your place to take back your children’s attention and introduce them to new topics in the faith.  Be open and think about things you can learn in the car together. Most importantly: talk, talk and talk!  Focus on praying for other people. Teach intercessory prayer. Try praying to a different saint each day. The options are many.

As you’re driving, if you see a police car or ambulance going by with the siren on, take a moment and pray together for peace within that situation. Pray for God to be with them. Give your children the opportunity to think about the Lord even in these little everyday circumstances. Spark those flames of faith. Spark those flames of love for Jesus and the thought that he is with us each moment of every day. Use your vehicle as a vehicle to bring your kids closer to the Lord . . . and closer to heaven.

 

Establish a routine of prayer

Kimberly Cook, author and founder of The Lion of Design; her newest book is Once I Was Blind But Now I See, on the miraculous testimony of one man’s life

The best gift I can give to my children is exposure to the Eucharist, an understanding of their faith to the best of my ability, and the gift of a cultivated prayer life! We are creatures of habit and it is so hard to establish a routine of prayer, no matter how strong our love of God, if we have not grown with that routine. Sure, there’s more to it than a ritual, but if you have that foundation carved out—a desire and need to spend each morning and evening with the Lord, then any additional devotion will only accentuate that time together.

I greatly admire those who have a standard morning prayer time with the Lord before the chaos of the day beings. For this reason, I start each day in prayer with my children, so that it has become natural to them to not want to move on with the day until we have established its start in prayer.

My blog is The Lion Of Design, where I strive to seek truth, goodness, and beauty on the journey of motherhood. Please join me and share your inspiration and joy through Christ, and check out my new book, Once I Was Blind But Now I See, on the miraculous testimony of one man’s life! 

 

Celebrate the liturgical year

Jessica Connolly from LiturgicalCalendars.com

As a Catholic convert myself and new to the idea of liturgical seasons, I was inspired to create modern calendars to help me, my family, and other families navigate the wealth of daily resources available through the Church. These calendars offer seasonal liturgical colors, daily readings, feast days, and sacred art by current and classical artists. By celebrating liturgical seasons at home, we can experience the full “mystery of Christ from Incarnation and Nativity through his Ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord” (Catechism 1194).

 

Couch Catechism: A quick and easy way to start the day with faith

Tracy Bua Smith blogs at A Slice of Smith Life

“Couch Catechism” family devotion time has been a consistent blessing for a few years now and something I look forward to each morning with my children before we start our homeschool day. I thought I would share what’s been working for us in hopes to give you ideas that may work for your family.

These special times with my children begin on our family room couch and for about 10 minutes we do the following together:

  • Each person has a turn to offer up daily prayer intentions for family and friends.
  • We recite the Morning Offering together.
  • I read the daily devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young that I actually won from a fellow blogger several years ago.  Each devotion is written as if Jesus was speaking to us and I’m always amazed that each devotion speaks to my own heart and what I need to hear.  I hope my children can say the same.
  • At the end of each devotion in Jesus Calling is a list of a few Scripture verses that goes along with what Jesus is calling us to do for that day.  I pick a verse from the list and my children take turns looking in the Bible for the verse and reading it out loud to their siblings and me.
  • Next, I read the saint for the day from Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1 (Jan.-June) or Vol. 2 (July-Dec.). I can’t say enough about these books! They are my favorite books to learn about the saints because the stories are short and can be easily understood by children. My children love when I ask them if they think the saint is a boy or girl after I read the saint’s name for the day. Some of them are obviously boy/girl names, while others are a bit tricky to figure out. I also throw in a little math if there is a birth date and death date given for the Saint. After I read about the saint’s life, I ask my children to calculate how old the saint was when he/she died. They use mental math to get the answer. We are all amazed by how young and old some saints were when they left their earthly home!
  • Finally, I read a card from the Friendly Defenders Catholic Flash Cards, Set One or Set Two.  The front side has a picture of a child asking a particular question about the Catholic faith while the backside of each card has another child answering the question with an explanation and Scripture verse. These cards have been a great springboard for many faith discussions that I have had with my children which are moments I savor with my children!

Our “Couch Catechism” family devotions hold a special place in my heart because it is a short, faith-filled time to connect with our faith and family to begin our day.

 

Parents share their best faith-formation strategies

“We have always prayed together at bedtime. Within the past year, we bought holy water fonts for our kids’ rooms and they love them so much that they now bless themselves with the water each time they enter or leave their bedrooms. We also began blessing each other with the Sign of the Cross and a simple prayer of our own words each night before the lights go out. My kids love the opportunity to bless their mom and dad!” (Amy Brogan Ferguson)

“Being able to ask questions but also evening prayer as a family where we do special intentions.” (Rachel Medlam Ormiston)

Our daughter is 2. Every night her dad blesses her and says a special prayer over her. Then we pray the rosary together. She will even ask for the rosary at nap time some days. At Mass we talk to her about what’s going on and make sure she can see when she wants to watch everything.” (Rebecca Nieser)

Using Feeding Your Family’s Soul as a guide, we take breaks from traditional rote prayers and talk about the saints and Catholic traditions at the dinner table.” (Regina Lordan)

With my children, we’ve recently started intercessions to each of their individual patron saints during morning or bedtime prayers. Often it is as simple as ‘St John, pray for us/me.’ It’s special to them and builds a devotion to ‘their’ saint.” (Amanda Murphy)

“Discussion anytime, anywhere.” (Susan Howard, author of I Can Be Happy, Too and In the Realm of Mist and Mercy)

“Our famous Egolf car rosary! It is a guarantee that we are all stuck in one place for at least 15 minutes!” (Jeanie Egolf, author of Molly McBride and the Purple Habit)

“Nighttime prayer, and prayer before meals even when out in public.” (JoAnna Wahlund)

Incorporating night prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours into our family prayer, starting with the main antiphon.” (Holly Vaughan)

We read daily scripture reading and the saint of the day. Our kids get excited because before we start they have to guess if the saint is a boy or a girl, saint or blessed, and what book the gospel comes from. Winner with all three correct gets a prize of being prayer leader.” (Donna McCall)

“I’d have to say that entering-our-minivan-for-the-first-time-daily prayers are one of the best. We pray the Angel of God prayer, then, when passing the cemetery right near our home, we pray Eternal Rest, then at least one decade of the rosary with special intentions.” (Martianne Stanger)

Dinners together have been fruitful conversation and often celebrations and markings of the liturgical year with food and prayer and learning.” (Angela Snyder)

We do a Sunday night family time (actually the idea was already taken from PB and Grace!). We start with our mission statement and family rules, make a family goal for the week, and then light some incense, put on soft piano hymns, and then my husband reads the Sunday readings or a little devotional. We all then have our quiet time, whether it’s the parents saying a rosary, or the kids coloring, or doing a lap book that has been pre-made. Sometimes my husband will read a saint story out loud to the kids, too. It’s my favorite time of the week!” (Kim Priaulx)

“Dinner together with conversation, discussion anytime anywhere, making Mass the most important time of the week, taking advantage of teachable moments. Also, our homeschool religion curriculum helps.” (Laura Sassaman Peratt)

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One Response

  1. atsmith@ec.rr.com'
    Tracy Bua Smith
    | Reply

    I love hearing how other families live out the faith in their home ! Great list of ideas!

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