Many of us are preparing for two special occasions that we celebrate - Mother's Day in May is and Fathers Day in June. As we prepare to celebrate these two occasions we may find ourselves reflecting on how our parents raised us, and we may also spend some time reflecting on how we are raising our own children. Are we raising them to be children of faith and service? Are we providing the opportunity for our children to develop a relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?
Silvio Cuellar, the Hispanic Ministry director for the Diocese of Providence, R.I., started a presentation in pastoral care of families with the following question: What do we want for our children? The vast majority responded with phrases like, we want them to be successful, hardworking, responsible, honest, and a professional. Very few said, we want them to be holy or a good Catholic. Isn't it sad that many first thought about material and worldly things? As Mark 8:36 says, "What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?
Cuellar has been blessed with five teenage children who are currently involved in serving others. They are involved in youth ministry and music ministry. They are donating their time and talents to help other young people develop a closer relationship to the Lord.
What can we do as parents to awaken our children's faith? Cuellar says first we must create habits in our children from very young. He calls them habits of holiness. First: Simple family prayer, faith is fed at home. The family that prays together stays together. Second: Attend Church faithfully, which means even attending Mass when on vacation. This will teach your children that our faith is very important and above anything. Third: Get involved in activities and the various ministry of the Church, be it lector, altar servers, or music or family ministry. Make church a place to be. Fourth: Look at the music, movies and TV shows that your children are watching and listening to, make sure that they are appropriate. Provide Christian music, movies and shows in your home. Fifth: Cut the cable and limit the use of technology. This can lead to constructive activities, like learning to play musical instruments, painting and playing sports. We need not be slaves of television, you can have a much more fun and productive family life limiting and in the Cuellar family case, completely eliminating the TV. Sixth: At some point our children need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. Our challenge as parents is not to force them to go to church but to create the conditions for them to have an experience of encounter with Jesus and want to go willingly. Take them to retreats and expose them to opportunities where they can have that experience where they can fall in love with the Lord. Finally, seventh: Talk less, act more. Demonstrate by your own example and habits what we expect from them.
As St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa often used: "Let us preach all the time and, if necessary, use words."