Five Ways Parents Can Engage Children in the Faith
The primary obligation of parents towards their children is to pave the way for the salvation of their immortal souls. Jesus pointed this out very clearly: “What would it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process. What can a man exchange for his very soul?” This Biblical passage was instrumental in the conversion of the great missionary, Saint Francis Xavier.
In this short essay, we would like to pinpoint five concrete decisions and practices that parents can undertake so as to pave the way to heaven for their children. Never forget parents: your primary obligation is to bring every family member to heaven, to be with God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the angels and saints for all eternity.
Provide for the Baptism of your child as soon as possible. During the course of the pregnancy good parents can do all the prior preparations so as to have the child baptized rapidly. Baptismal talks, papers, godparents, etc. can be prepared and ready even before the child is born. Remember the words of Jesus, referring to the small child; “Let the little children come to me because as such is the kingdom of heaven.”
2. Pray Immediately!
A child can be compared to a sponge. The nature of a sponge is to absorb, especially liquids and usually water. However, if one puts dirty water into the sponge, then dirty water will be wrung out; clean, then clean water will be wrung out. A three year-old child can watch TV and repeat dumb, offensive and vulgar words or songs. If this is the case, why should parents not fill the mind, heart and lips of the child with prayers to the Guardian Angel, to Mary, to the Trinity, to the Heavenly Father. Why allow the child to be filled with junk, better, to fill him/her with beautiful prayers!
3. Offer it Up
Parents, we invite you to teach your children the short but all important phrase: “Offer it up!” What this really means is to take advantage of daily sufferings and crosses that God sends to adults as well as to children. Much suffering is wasted because it is not offered up to God. Why not teach children, even when they are small, to offer up the headache, toothache, hot or cold weather, the fall and bruise and the cut, so that these sufferings will have infinite value. Mom and Dad, you are the first teachers, especially in the area of faith. Be faithful to your marriage vocation!
4. “Love one another as I have loved you.”
The Last and greatest commandment of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was that of love—to love all as he loved us. Parents who are blessed by God to have more than one child should make a concerted effort on their part to love all their children and their immortal souls. However, the devil always seeks to sow the seed of discord, confusion, jealously, rivalry, comparisons, and suspicions. Parents must strive with all of the energy of their wills to foster mutual respect, humility, love and harmony among their siblings.
At all costs parents must avoid the “Cain-complex”. What is the “Cain-complex”? The Cain-complex consists in pitting one sibling against the other. It results in the ugly fruits of comparisons, rivalries, jealousy often leading to envy and fights and hatred and killing, if not physically at least in the heart. How can the “Cain-complex” be avoided? A simple remedy! It is all related to union with God in prayer, the three dimensions of family prayer. Parents should pray for their children; parents should teach their children to pray; finally, parents should pray with their children. If done, this will prove to be one of the most efficacious remedies to avoid the ugly, but all too prevalent “Cain-complex.”
5. The Real Presence.
Good Catholic parents, we warmly exhort you to teach your children, as soon as possible, the meaning of the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Mass, Consecration, Holy Communion. Furthermore, parents should teach their children, even the little ones, where Jesus is truly present in the Church. How is this to be done successfully by parents? Various suggestions!
- 1) Parents work on growing in your own faith in Jesus present in the Eucharist—nobody can give what he does not possess personally.
- 2) Explain to your children that the most important event every week is attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday, but also participating fully, consciously and actively.
- 3) Reverence.The modern world has lost the sense of the sacred in the churches today. Parents must teach their children that the Church is the House of God and a sacred and holy environment. Therefore, in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, there should be cultivated silence, that fosters both prayer and reverence.
- 4) Genuflection. Parents should execute the genuflection properly, right knee to the ground with hands folded over heart, and explain why this is done. Simply! It is done to adore the Lord of Lord and King of Kings who is residing in His little Palace or Castle in the Blessed Sacrament. The Kings prostrated themselves before the Child Jesus in Bethlehem; we prostrate ourselves by a reverential genuflection. Remember that Jesus, now present in the Blessed Sacrament, is still Lord of Lords and King of Kings and still worthy of worship and praise. This is done by the genuflection.
- 5) Visits to the blessed Sacrament. One of the first little poems I remembered learning as a child was the following related to Eucharistic visits: “Whenever I see a Church, I stop to make a visit, so that when I die the Lord will not say, who is it?” Parents should form the habit of now and then stopping to visit Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. Even though the visit might last five minutes, this is very pleasing to Jesus whose Sacred Heart rejoices every time we visit Him and remember Him!
In conclusion, if parents can take seriously their obligation to be a Saint John the Baptist and point the way to Jesus and the Highway to heaven, then the parents will strive to implement these five practical points of advice: 1) The graces of early Baptism; 2) Prayer which is the key to heaven; 3) The value of offering up and suffering for a purpose; 4) Love, living out love in family; 5) The Eucharistic Lord, growing in faith, knowledge and love for Jesus the Bread of Life, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
May Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and our Heavenly Mother attain for us extraordinary graces through her all-powerful prayers! END QUOTEs