Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Catholicizing my kids

I shared last week about our experience joining the Catholic Church--with kids in tow.

If you've been through this, then you know that conversion is, well, a funny thing when you have little ones with lots of questions--and opinions.  Because our faith is central to everything we do (or ought to be, anyway), this switch was a family issue for us, not simply a private theological shift for Kevin and I.  The books we read and the prayers we said and the church we attended would all be a bit different.  So I thought I'd share some resources and practices that we've found helpful along the way.

One of the most important steps was actually explaining the Mass, and Catholicism in general, to our children.  We purchased a couple of books for just this purpose:

We Go to Mass, a simple board book for the littler ones


The Mass Book for Children for my bigger kiddos.

Our family loves Saint stories.  A year or so ago I bought The Children's Book of Saints, which is great for short daily readings.

Then some dear friends of ours gifted us with these out-of-print gems. 

And we LOVE them, our favorites by far!  We try to make sure we read about whichever saint is having a feast day that day.

I've always made sure that we have some type of religious instruction as part of our (home)school day.  This year I've begun using a Catechism curriculum by Faith and Life.  Kids learn various prayers  and also about the doctrines of the faith.  There's an accompanying Activity Book that's great, and the lesson book includes lots of wonderful artwork.  I'm really enjoying this resource.

We read the Bible each day.  I'm still hunting around for just the right Catholic Children's Bible, but one thing I've enjoyed is just doing the daily weekday Mass readings with the kids.  We have the Catholic One app on our Kindle Fire, and we also have a Roman Missal.

Weekday Mass.  I would love, love, love for us to eventually make it to 8 am Mass the majority of the days of the week.  Really.  Recently I've tried shooting for ONE weekday Mass (and of course we always go on Sundays.)  It's an amazing way to start our family's day, but of course the main obstacle is getting seven kids fed and out the door so early, then keeping the two 2-year-olds semi-quiet during the 30-minute Mass.  But it's always worth it.  The kids really enjoy getting up and going to weekday Mass.  And I'm finding that I do too.

When we attend Mass on Sundays, we try not to sit TOO far back, so my kids can see what's going on and feel as if they're participating.  I also don't personally allow my children to bring toys along.  While they seem to work well for others, I've found that for us, they wind up just being a distraction and way more trouble than they're worth.  Plus, I feel like my five oldest kiddos (ages 4-7) are capable of sitting, standing, kneeling, singing, praying, and getting a little something out of the homily.  I try to always excitedly remind them during the Consecration that Jesus is here now!!!, and what a miracle it truly is.

My four oldest kids received their own set of Rosary beads in their respective Christmas stockings this year.  (Oh, you didn't know Santa is all about Marian devotions?  Well, he totally is.  He even brought each of them a little picture of Bernadette with a Rosary at Lourdes.  'Cause that's how Santa rolls around here.)

Each of my kids has their own small crucifix--Mekdes and Tigist each have one from Ethiopia, and my other kids' came from the Vatican, in Rome.  We picked all of them up on our trips this past year (just prior to joining the Church.)  They love kissing Jesus and really value them.  So, so sweet.

So, those are some of the resources and sacramentals and practices we've stumbled upon, and found beneficial so far.  But enough about me.  How about you?  How do you incorporate the Catholic Faith into your family life?


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