As she gets older, my daughter has been calling my wife and I to holiness. Here’s how children can call their parents to greater faith.
by Ryan Langr
My wife and I were exhausted from long days and neither of us wanted to cook, so I picked up some fast food from one of our favorite local places. Not bothering to clear off the table, we pushed the junk aside and started chowing down. We were hungry! Halfway through her cheese quesadilla my 14-month-old daughter clasped her hands together and said, “Pray!”
I felt a little guilty. Though we pray nearly every meal, occasionally we neglect the practice. My daughter can’t do the sign of the cross, or say any of the prayers. But its good to know that something as small as cultivating a habit of prayer has already produced effects in her. Now, she will remember praying before meals literally for as long as she can remember.
We said our meal prayer, my daughter staring intently at us the whole time, and said Amen. “Men!” she finished with us, and we continued on our meal. She still says “Pray!” when we forget or neglect to do it before meals. I’m so proud of her. Now, we just have to get her to pray in Mass!
As with most things concerning my daughter, I learned something from this experience. Parenthood is a vocation because it calls us to holiness, and our children are vehicles for that. Following are four ways that our children can call us to greater faith.
1. Youthful enthusiasm
Our children approach the faith with a natural enthusiasm and curiosity. They genuinely love Jesus and the faith and want us to love him too. Not only can this rub off on us as parents, but hopefully it will lead to the following situations when our children want to participate in their faith, even when we may not feel it.
2. Reminding us to pray
As in the story above, our children can remind us to pray or call us to new forms of prayer. Finding new ways to pray can not only help you teach your child how to strengthen their relationship with God, but can help you to discover a way to communicate with God you may not have thought of before. Prayer also strengthens families, and teaching your child to pray can help them and your family get through some tough times. Whether it’s meal prayer, the rosary, adoration, or lectio divina, teach your child to pray and they will return the favor.
3. Getting us to Mass
I’ve been involved with Totus Tuus for nearly ten years, and one of the hallmarks of the week-long program is that K-6th grade students attend Mass every day. The kids love the Mass, often saying it’s the best part of their day. Many of these kids don’t attend daily Mass, but every year, without fail, there’s always at least one family who begins attending Sunday Mass again because their children were so excited to go.
4. Opportunities for sacrifice
Being a parent is hard, whether it’s late nights, fighting siblings, or constantly catching whatever illness they’ve brought home, there’s plenty of opportunities to offer up suffering. These are opportunities to offer up as penance for our sins, and the holiness of our children. If we offer up every difficult situation, temper tantrum, and pain that our children cause us, imagine how effective that could be!
5. Teaching us about the faith
If you’re on this site, you’re probably interested in learning how to teach your children the faith. Children need to learn and grow, and that need motivates us to learn more ourselves. Whether it’s learning factual information from the Catechism or church documents, or learning how pray better, wanting the best for our children motivates us to be the best version of ourselves.
Seeds Planted, Fruit Reaped
Being a parent in any capacity is difficult, and many times we may be too tired, angry, or busy to practice our faith in the way we should. But our children, and the children we minister to as catechists, grandparents, school teachers, and in many other roles, are fresh soil in which we plant seeds. We may not always see the fruit of that planting, but many times it will be those seeds we planted that call us to greater holiness in times when our faith may be lacking. Keep taking those daily little steps to instill habits into the children in your lives—you never know when your little one will call you to prayer.