I've just ordered THIS BOOKthis book from Amazon. The title of the book is "Keeping Your Kids Catholic" by Bert Ghezzi. I understand that it offers practical advice to parents on various aspects of Catholic Family Life and how-to-articles on how to share the faith with your children and how to love children who have left the faith altogether. Many of you may seem surprised that I would need a book like this considering my job as a youth minister and mom, but quite frankly, I can always use some additional advice,inspiration and support.
During the post-Vatican II years (when I was raised) Catholic parents simply taught the faith by doing: ie: going to Mass, praying the Rosary, driving to CCD classes. Not much was explained or emphasized. Faith was primarily passed on through osmosis or through whatever the priest said from the pulpit. Parents did not know how to really "share" their faith with their children since "sharing" was primarily a Protestant phenomena and not something Catholics were comfortable doing. Some Catholics are still uncomfortable with the whole "touchy-feely" "sharing" kind of religion and that's just fine. But. If we expect our children to benefit from the gift that is a Catholic Faith in Jesus Christ, we as parents need to educate OURSELVES first. Reading, asking questions, sharing the faith with others, bible study, church history...all of this is important to know if we want to counter the anti-religious messages that are prevalent in our world. Problem is, most adults today are stuck in a pre-adolescent phase of their faith..a Jr. High level of faith...if you will. Their questions were not answered back when they were developing and as a result, we have a whole generation of adults roaming around wondering what the heck they are supposed to tell their kids about faith in Christ and the role the Church has in it all.
After working with parents in youth ministry for 10+ years, I've learned that we, as parents, MUST know the faith and practice it faithfully in order to pass it on to our children. At at recent parent orientation for our faith development program, a parent stood up and asked me for advice on how to get her Jr. High/high school youth to go to Mass. I told her that I could answer her question, but was afraid she was not going to like the answer. I told her that in order to get her child to Mass, she and her husband would have to go to Mass without fail. No questions asked. No excuses that the weather is bad or that the weekend was too busy, or that the kids would complain, or that the homily last week was too boring. When kids see that Mass is an OPTION, they will continually push the parents to NOT go..."Mom and dad don't take Mass seriously..why should I?" If we really believe that Christ is present in the Eucharist and that what we see is miraculous, and that we receive special graces in just being in christ's presence, why wouldn't we drag our kids down to the church every single Sunday?
The more we learn the better equipped we are to keep our kids Catholic-to keep ourselves Catholic. When we experience our inevitable doubts about the faith, consider it an invitation from Christ to learn MORE. Parents need to get their questions answered by someone knowledgeable and faith filled. If not, the doubts/questions will fester and there we will be...sleeping in...giving in to hopelessness...forgetting the gift of love given to us in the Eucharist and leaving our children with reason to NOT believe. Parenting a Catholic family is not for cowards. It's positively counter-cultural and unpopular, but it is a privilege beyond any other. We're up to the challenge.