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There’s No Substitute for Living the Faith

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First Communion Dress


In so many aspects of our faith journey, there is no substitute for the real experience.


by Heidi Indahl

On January 1, the great Solemnity celebrating Mary, Mother of God, my oldest daughter received our Lord in Holy Communion for the first time. In preparing, we learned more about the parts of the Mass, discussed the true presence of Christ, talked about how to receive properly, and modified my wedding dress and veil for her special day. We read books, did craft projects, prayed together, and more.

Intentional-FamilyFor more than a year, Kylee spoke of the day when she would receive Jesus. Evoking shades of St. Therese, she told me when she was six that she knew she was too little yet to receive but that soon she would grow bigger and be ready.

When the big day arrived, however, Kylee was quiet and apprehensive. I could tell she was nervous and worried that she would do something wrong. During the homily I leaned over and gave her a hug and whispered in her ear that Jesus wasn’t worried and wouldn’t want her to be nervous. He just wanted to be with her like always, but now in a new and special way.

While all the preparation and practice couldn’t keep my daughter from her nerves day one, nothing could compare to her excitement a few days later. She came down for breakfast completely ready for Mass and excited that today she could receive Jesus with everyone else. No more nerves, only confidence.

In so many aspects of our faith journey, there is no substitute for the real experience. Learning about Mass isn’t the same as participating in Mass. Memorizing the prayers isn’t as important as making a habit to use them. Talking about the poor doesn’t have the same impact as serving the poor. As parents, we can be sure that our children have the best and fullest experience of their faith only by ensuring that they have ample opportunities not just to learn about, but to fully experience and participate in, the sacramental and faith life of the Church.

In practicing intentional family living, remember that living is a verb!

Follow Heidi Indahl:
Heidi Indahl is a wife, mother, and professional educator with a master’s degree in instructional design. She and her husband are raising their seven children on a small farm in Southern Minnesota. She is the author of "Blessed Is the Fruit of the Womb, Rosary Reflections for Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss" and blogs about all things faith, family and homeschool at workandplaydaybyday.com.

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