Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Do you take your children to church?

My church attendance hasn't always been consistent.  But my husband grew up going to mass every single week.  It was something I admired about him when we met in college. And when we were engaged, the question of religion was was discussed.  We decided to raise our children in the Catholic Church even though I had no intention of converting to Catholicism at that time--I was a Lutheran and planned on staying that way.  But God had other plans.

After we were married, something stirred in me to learn about becoming a catholic.  Mainly because I wasn't comfortable thinking of raising children in a home where dad went to mass every weekend, and mom went somewhere else, or skipped, or went with dad but didn't fully participate.

I was fortunate to receive my catholic education at Old St. Pat's in Chicago, where I found a liberal and welcoming form of Catholicism that really connected me and my faith to becoming a catholic.

Raising four children in the faith has turned out to be such a blessing in my life. My husband's disciplined approach has allowed our family to spend countless hours enjoying, discussing and reflecting on the mass.  And my parish life included teaching catechism classes and attending bible study.  Our children grew up watching us pay attention to our spiritual lives. 

We have been so fortunate to make memories by attending masses in unusual places while traveling with our family.  We met a priest in the mountains of Colorado, who used a boom box and sang show tunes.  We celebrated Christmas at a midnight mass in a tiny Hawaiian church filled with ukelele music.  And one Palm Sunday, we were at a mass in Brugge, Belgium where they were speaking Flemish as we tried unsuccessfully to follow along.  But usually we are at 9:00 am mass in our home parish with whoever is back from college or still living in our house.  Because that is what we do.  We go to mass- as a family.  

My point of this post is to illustrate to you, that as parents--my husband and I are so glad that we made the decision to nurture and develop our children's faith.  I realize there are a lot of people who have complaints against organized religion. There have been and will be many atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion.  But the other side of the story is very rarely discussed.

Attending religious services once a week teaches your children to focus on something other than themselves for one hour.  How can that be a bad thing?  And the message of Christianity offers hope and promotes love and service to others. These are powerful messages for young people.  Church can provide an anchor for your family to help you and your children navigate through tough times.  My son had a dear friend pass away while he was away at college.  It was a very hard time for him, and his campus parish helped him navigate a difficult time while being far away from the love and support of his parents. This situation confirmed to me the importance of nurturing and growing a spiritual life in our children from a very young age.

When your children leave the nest, although they may or may not go every week, they know their faith is there waiting for them...because it grew in them all of those years--one hour at a time.  So go for it, go back to church, it is only one hour a week but can offer an eternity of gifts.


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