The following steps to live a Catholic life are listed in order
of importance. They are all very easy, but may take a little while to become
habit. If not everyone in your family is willing to commit to this life, be
patient. Encourage, don't force. You may be surprised how many positive changes
will take place in your family life with even the simplest effort. There may also be trials;
be patient. God is there at your side. Be an
example of doing God's will, not one's own will. Your good example can gradually
Step 1: Commit to living your faith.
Today is the day! You just need to say "yes" to God. Don't worry
that you're no theologian. It's okay to feel overwhelmed and helpless. It's no
big deal if you're a post-Vatican II kid who grew up with no catechism.
It's time to stop worrying and stop making excuses. You are a good parent and
you CAN live a Catholic life. It's definitely worth it!
Step 2: Get thyself to Mass!
Preferably on time. Catholics have Mass, not just services. We
have the most incredible celebration of divine worship, proclamation of the
Gospel, and the call to serve God and neighbor.
Learning more about
our liturgy will make the experience even more fulfilling.
If you have small children, going to Mass is always an
adventure! It's also the best way to teach your children the importance of God
in their lives. If you find yourself getting frustrated with an abundance of
youthful energy, be rest assured you are not alone. Your efforts early on will
bear "bushels" of fruit later. If you need a laugh
click here. We're all in this together!
Of course we've heard lots of
reasons for NOT going to
Mass. (Go ahead, check them out. If you've got more, let us know! Don't
forget to check out our counter-reasons, too!) Never mind.
It's time to buckle down and do the single most important thing you can do for
Step 3: Pray as a family
This may feel awkward if you haven't been in the habit of saying
prayers out loud. Go ahead, give it a try. Use the golden oldies, or make
up some of your own. It's highly unlikely you will do anything wrong with this
one! You can praise God, thank God, ask for God's help, and even ask for
forgiveness. The more you practice, the easier it will be.
- always a winner. Sit and cuddle with your
kids, kneel at the bedside, whatever works for your family. Just make sure that
everyone understands this is a special time. Make a Sign of the Cross, say the
Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. Give everyone a chance to thank God for
something, and a chance for each person to ask for help for himself, for
others, or both.
Grace before meals - another oldie but goodie.
Stopping for a few moments to thank God for giving us our daily bread, even if
it's yucky vegetables, reminds us that we are here by the grace of God, and He
loves us more than we can ever imagine.
Celebrate Family Night
Show your family just how important they are. Set aside two
hours each and every week to spend time together. It may be the same day and
time, it may need to be scheduled when schedules allow. Most importantly, try to
stick to the weekly get-together.
What should you do during that time? Whatever is fun for your
family. Usually our family watches old movies on Sunday evenings. (Click
here for some suggestions) We put a big
blanket on the floor in front of the TV and have a carpet picnic. The rest of
the week we eat at the table with the TV off, so family night is special.
Occasionally we go fishing, take a hike in the mountains, or do something else
together. Once in a while we even schedule an entire family day. The most
important point is that we take the time to enjoy each other.
On the rare occasions when something else replaces our scheduled
family night time, we have to re-schedule within a day or two. The kids demand
it! It is a time we all cherish.
We are not referring to always talking about God (not that
that's a bad thing!). We really mean that you should try to express love in
everything you say and do. This is something that most people always need to
work on, and never quite perfect.
At first just realize how frequently you speak unlovingly to
your family, your friends, and others. Next, consciously try to improve your
behavior. Eventually it does become habit. But be careful! It is really easy to
fall back into bad habits, especially when you are tired or frustrated. Your
efforts will benefit the entire family, just wait and see!
A few suggestions to start you off:
Avoid those pesky four-letter words and similar language
Avoid gossip - consider how often you complain about the people
you know who would be better off being just like you (the sin of pride is often at
Pay attention to how often you yell at other people while driving, and
try to minimize that if it is a habit. How about replacing your negative comments with something
like "May God bless you and keep you safe...from me!" The "...from me"
is entirely optional.
How often do you make comments when you have to wait in lines?
More importantly, how often do you hear your children making the same nasty
comments you're thinking as you wait in a long line?
Avoid any negative comments to your family, especially your
kids. Of course, correcting mistakes is a necessary part of parenting; this
should be accomplished lovingly. Name-calling is definitely inappropriate.
Yelling and screaming is usually ineffective and sends entirely the wrong
message. Teaching and guidance actually work.
Are you speaking/acting toward every person the way you
would like God to speak to you?
When you do slip up and speak un-spiritually, apologize
immediately. Children are so forgiving, and can teach adults a good lesson about
Once these basic steps become habit, it's time
celebrate the Church year!