Monday, February 21, 2011

Faith and Little Children

My friend Sarah is a mother of three darling boys. She is an ultra-couponer extraordinaire and blogs about her strategies over at providentandresourceful.com. One day she's going to stop by my house and give me a remedial class. I have clearly failed to grasp the essentials.

Sarah recently sent me an email wondering about resources we've used to introduce our kids to the Catholic faith. Here are few things that our kids have enjoyed:

1. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd - While I am wholly biased, having poured my life's blood into this program for years, truly nothing beats this for bringing the faith to life for very young children.

2. The Donut Man – Can't say enough about his CDs and DVDs. Biblical, liturgical, and fun.

3. Little Acts of Grace 1 and 2, Mass Book for Children, Living the Ten Commandments for Children, Just Like Mary – This is a seriers of kids’ books you can find on Amazon. They are beautfiul and simple.

4. Saint Books - My kids have enjoyed these from about age four and on.

5. Bible Stories - Lots of options. Boys love those battle scenes!

6. Faith and Life Series - For Kindergartners and up. Some parishes use this series for PRE. The lessons are clear and basic. You can find the books on Ebay or Amazon.

7. Magnifikid - This is a weekly magazine that follows the order of the Mass plus adds some interesting extras.  For kids of reading age and above. We have given this to our Godchildren at different ages.


8. Prayerful practices - We say simple prayers like "Jesus come into my heart; take over my life." We encourage good behavior in church by letting John light a candle and pray for his grandmother after Mass. We have a prayer table in our living room. We rotate the color of the tablecloth based on the liturgical season.
Piety reigns during evening prayers!

With Tim and Kolbe, who were not close in age, I attended weekday Mass. We would sit close to the Altar so the kids could hear. The Mass was short so they could pay attention better. We would visit the tabernacle after Mass. It was a special time to introduce them to prayer. With John and Ainsley being closer in age, I haven't mustered the courage to try this much at all. Other people manage to bring stair-step kids to Mass. It's not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely worthwhile.

These are a few ideas we have tried off and on. Short and simple has always trumped complicated and lengthy.

I have to pull this back into edit mode to emphasize that the main way we share our faith with our kids is by living it fully and imperfectly. My kids see everyday, in numerous ways, that 1) I love God and 2) I am a flawed human being. In this area, as with so many other aspects of motherhood, it's easy to try to "keep up with the Jones." I do well to meditate on Micah 6:8 which reads, "What does God ask of You? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

All that said, I would love to hear ideas from readers. Do you have books your kids have loved? Ideas for prayer or Mass participation?


3 comments:

christinelaennec said...

Hi Kelly - thanks for asking this question, and also for your reminder that it's fine to live our faith imperfectly! The tools we use in our house are:

- holding hands at dinner and each of us saying thank you for something that day;
- singing hymns / church songs (I have a very small notebook that I've copied words into, that's good for taking on trips);
- saying bedtime prayers, usually ones we make up on the spot. Until very recently, my daughter has wanted me to start and then she joins in. But last night she wanted to pray wordlessly next to me. We also say the Lord's Prayer together.
- me (briefly!) sharing my inspirational reading at the breakfast table;
- my daughter really likes to think about angels, so if she's anxious I say "call upon your angels for help". When she was much younger I gave her a small necklace with an angel, which she wore very often.
- we have a little space at the top of our stairs with a bowl of angel cards, some short printed-out prayers, and also a closed container to put written-down prayers in.
- books we've used a lot are "In Every Tiny Grain of Sand" and also Joan Wester Anderson's book "An Angel to Look Over Me".

I think the most important thing we do, more than any of the above, is to talk openly about our faith-related thoughts and questions as a family. I'm pleased that both our children feel free to say things that we might disagree with. I've always said to them, "Each person has to find their way in faith. No one can tell you what to believe." Actually sticking to that can be a BIG challenge for me, though!!!

Kelly said...

Christine -

Thanks for sharing. I'm going to look up those books you mentioned.

Our kids often (not always)love what we love. Are your kids big readers?

- Kelly

christinelaennec said...

My daughter is a huge bookworm, and our son used to be but I don't think he reads much these days. However, as he spent several years sunk in books (between about age 11-16), I know he can if he wants!

I realised after I wrote my earlier comment that it wasn't quite what you were asking for, because I didn't really talk about church services as such. This is quite a difficult thing for me at the moment as my daughter (13) is choosing not to go to church / Youth Club, etc. and I really find it SO difficult. But I know that the worst thing I can do is to make her go and have her be unhappy at church. So I have to be true to my word and principles and let her choose for herself. I've done a lot of thinking about how, as you say, our children don't always love the things we love.

Although I believe church expands our faith in so many ways, I comfort myself knowing that she does HAVE faith and has a language for talking about her beliefs with us, and for prayer, etc. So I need to focus on that.

(Apologies for such long comments!)