Even with hectic schedules, it's easy for families to grow in faith together by celebrating the sacred in eight simple and routine activities.
1. Teach your children to start each day with prayers. A good prayer to teach them is a morning offering...
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of
Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys,
and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions
of the Sacred Heart, in union with
the holy Catholic Church throughout the
world and the communion of saints.
2. Put a saint-of-the-day calendar on your breakfast table. For more in-depth information, pick up a copy of Voices of the Saints for your family. Reading the passage of the day gives you the chance to teach your children important lessons about holy people whose example we can emulate, and it also conveys a sense that our days have meaning and worth.
3. Celebrate ethnic holidays and feasts—even if it’s not your ethnic group. My German mother-in-law always made shamrock pancakes for her children on St. Patrick’s Day. The growing number of Hispanics in the U.S. is enriching our culture with traditional feasts for Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Charity, and Los Posadas. There are countless ways to spice up the calendar year with special celebrations. They convey without words that all the days are special. The whole year is bathed in holiness.
4. Make birthdays special. Celebrating a person’s birth is a central way to convey a sense of time’s sacredness. The point of celebrating is to convey how much you cherish this child, and straightforward and simple are usually better than elaborate, as expressed through “things.”
Find a time ay to sit together with your child and share a special message just from you. It might be about the day he or she was born, about how much you were looking forward to having this child. Or mention traits of this child that bring you joy. If you do that early in the day, I’ll bet the rest of the day goes well, no matter how many kids show up for the party.
5. Make more of your time in the car together. Do yourself and your children a favor and abstain from asking questions in the car. Instead, sit and listen. Your children may not talk to you—especially if they’re with their friends. But pretend you’re the disinterested chauffeur, and you’ll hear an earful.
If you’re alone with your children, let them take the initiative. You can ask something leading: “Have you got any questions about life that are on your mind?” Then sit back and listen. Your listening attitude can draw your children out. The more listening you do, the more you’ll find out, and the closer you’ll become.
6. Create a quiet area or room in your house. Find space where there is no TV noise or other distraction. This area can be a place the kids do their homework, a spot where you can have a quiet and serious conversation or just daydream. With all the noise of modern life, times of relative quiet can indeed be sacred.
7. Celebrate the night before the first day of school. Set aside the night before school begins as story night. Each person has to tell at least one story from the previous year about him- or herself or about the family. Here is a chance to solidify connections and gather strength before beginning the adventure of a new school year. It gives everyone the chance to calm down and switch gears from summertime ways of living.
8. Make Saturday night special. As the week segues from business-as-usual to the restful experience promised by observance of the Sabbath, mark this special time with your children by helping them switch gears. You can prepare your family to get more out of church by shaping what goes on in your home during the hours beforehand. There’s no one set formula. Find a routine that works for you; then be faithful to it.
Excerpted in part from Raising Faith-Filled Kids by Tom McGrath.