Archive for Radiant Faith – Page 2

Same-Sex Marriage: Getting the Conversation Right with Your Kids

“Perhaps there is no greater tragedy for man

than the sense of disillusionment he suffers

when he has corrupted or falsified his hope,

by placing it in something other than the one Love

which satisfies without ever satiating.”

— St. Josemaria Escriva

Frustration, anger, helplessness. These are all emotions that churn in my heart as I look about at the falsified hope penetrating our world. The SCOTUS ruling legalizing same-sex marriage is sweeping our nation, and I don’t want my kids to get swept up with it.

Here are a few thoughts for protecting our children from disillusionment and keeping them on the path to “the one Love which satisfies.”

1. Create the right first impressions.

flower-girl-663210_1280I remember attending weddings with my parents when I was a kid. The beautiful bride, the handsome groom, the flowers, the music…and always a church. When I recently received an invitation to a cousin’s Catholic church wedding, I realized how rare church weddings are becoming.

Our first impressions are powerful. We can create memories for our children that will form their consciences properly. When you have the chance to attend a Catholic wedding, seize the opportunity! My husband and I are looking forward to attending my cousin’s wedding with our children and allowing them to experience where marriage begins.

2.  Maintain a sense of order.

Clean your domestic church often! Revisit family prayer routines, sacrament schedules, and works of mercy plans. Remind your children that even daily chores are meant to be ordered towards God. Schedule regular “family fun” times that allow you to nurture your marriage and your relationships with your children. Spend time outside in the natural order God created, and practice detachment from material possessions. Live the Truth that it is God alone who fully satisfies.

From doing the dishes, to whom we choose to marry, there is a rightful order to everything–and it isn’t just based on our opinions or how we feel.

3.  Extend love and mercy.

 My parents raised me with a clear sense of right and wrong. They’re not afraid to point to a behavior and say simply, “That’s a sin!” But I’ve always admired their ability to separate the sin from the sinner. I’ve often watched them extend genuine love and kindness toward someone who I know has done something of which they don’t approve. This is something I continue to strive for–to show my children that God’s love and mercy is for everyone, even if we don’t approve of everything they are doing.

Getting the marriage conversation with our kids right involves languages other than our words. Speak to your children through the language of your lifestyle, your priorities, and your actions. When your children’s hearts are rooted in memories and habits ordered towards God, the guiding words that follow as they mature will make sense. We can raise children who will be warriors for God’s law and messengers of His mercy.

Image credit: Pixabay

Summer Spirituality for Kids

dreamstime_xs_21585662

The Spiritual Works of Mercy move beyond the needs of the body to the needs of the soul. They nurture others at a profound level, bringing them into deeper union with others and with God. We are sometimes presented with the opportunity to carry out these works of mercy when we least expect it. The practical suggestions below will help even small children feel prepared for those unexpected moments. Pray the Holy Spirit prayer that accompanies each work of mercy so that you will “not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say.” Trust that, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, “you will be given at that moment what you are to say.” (Matt 10:19)

1.  Admonish the sinner

  • Don’t be afraid to tell your children (who have reached the age of reason) that immoral behavior is an objective sin. (“Playing my smartphone when I told you not to was disobedience. That was wrong and a sin.”)
  • Encourage your children to charitably remind their siblings or friends of the right thing to do when they see a bad choice being made. Role play some example scenarios.

Holy Spirit, please give me the fortitude I need to speak up for what is right and encourage others to follow God’s commandments.

2.  Instruct the uninformed

  • Have older siblings teach a Bible story or a principle of our Catholic faith to younger siblings. Get creative with a puppet show, play, or craft!
  • Ask one of your children to invite a non-Catholic friend to a fun parish event.

Holy Spirit, please fill me with Your gift of understanding, so that I can teach others the Truth about my Catholic faith.

3.  Counsel the doubtful

  • Encourage your children to look for reasons to praise each other. Use the power of positive reinforcement to confirm good choices.
  • To give good counsel, we have to be good listeners. Ask your children to tell you something interesting (not gossip) that they heard as they went about their day.

Holy Spirit, please give me the gift of counsel so I will know what to do and say when someone is feeling scared or unsure.

4.  Comfort the sorrowful

  • Come together as a family when someone is sad or sick. Have each family member think of something nice they can do or say.
  • Explain grief to your children at an age appropriate level. Have them help you make a card for someone who is suffering — just to let them know you’re thinking about them.

Holy Spirit, please give me the gift of knowledge, that I might see my life the way God sees it. Help me to share with others that everything that happens to us works for a greater good.

5.  Be patient with those in error

  • Teach your children calming techniques (deep breathing, taking a “time out” from a heated situation, getting a soothing hug from Mom or Dad). Tell them to use these techniques when they start to feel angry with someone so they can use a gentle tone of voice to work things out.
  • Remind your children that your family loves people more than things. Even if a sibling breaks a treasured possession or interrupts a fun activity, teach your children to show respect and kindness toward him or her.

Holy Spirit, please give me the gift of wisdom so that I can love You, and those made in Your image, above all else–even when I feel sad or mad.

6.  Forgive offenses

  • Give your children the words they need when they claim they “hate” someone who did something they didn’t like. (“Instead of ‘I hate him’, try ‘I didn’t like it when he smashed my Lego truck.’”)
  • Help two children who were upset with each other find something fun to do together once they’ve cooled off. Assist them in repairing their relationship.

Holy Spirit, please gift me with a healthy fear of the Lord so that I will be filled with a desire to please Him and forgive others as He forgives me.

7.  Pray for the living and the dead

  • Make a “spiritual bouquet” for someone who needs your prayers. Send them a card filled with paper flowers — one for each prayer you will say for them.
  • Write down the names of deceased relatives and friends in a prayer journal, and light a candle while you pray a decade of the Rosary for them.

Holy Spirit, please give me the gift of piety, so that I will remain obedient to the prayer life you have chosen for me.

Image credit: “mercy” by Andrew Parvenov (dreamstime.com)

3 Techniques for Raising Children Who Love to Pray

GUEST POST by ALEXANDRA KUBEBATU

Prayer is the essential tool to help our children build a life-long relationship with God. Many parents believe children do not need to be actively learning to pray until they begin CCD, but that is not the case.  According to scientific studies, a child’s character and world-view is mostly established by the age of five.  For this reason, teaching our children under five how to pray is essential.

1.  Set-up a prayer altar in your home or child’s room

child praying2Growing up, my mother always set up a prayer altar and encouraged us to put one together in our bedrooms. As a little girl, I didn’t have much space sharing a room with my sister, nor did I have a small table to set it up on, so creativity was a must! I found a cardboard box, flipped it on its side, and covered it with my favorite pillowcase. Then I placed on it a photo of our Blessed Mother, a small crucifix, a small dish with Holy Water, and a Bible. I was so excited to have a small altar in my bedroom where I could pray on my own.

Children have a short attention span so the excitement of having their own prayer altar in their room will quickly wear off. The prayer altar should not be treated as a toy they can play with once in a while. We need to teach our children how to use it. One technique is to incorporate their prayer altar as part of the waking and bedtime routines. When they wake up in the morning, show them how to give themselves the Sign of the Cross and say a short prayer. Make sure to place a pillow or something for your child to kneel on comfortably. At bedtime, you can make it part of the routine by having them say their prayers at their altar after bathing.

Since small children are still learning to put thoughts into words, they will learn to pray at first by repeating after you. For example, you may ask them to repeat after you as you pray the “Glory Be,” then follow up with something simple like, “thank you God for another beautiful day. Please protect me and my family. Help me be a good girl/boy and listen to my mom and dad.”

Having your children’s participation putting an altar together and teaching them how to use it will help them begin to take responsibility for their own spiritual development and relationship with God.

2.  Pray in front of your children

There are few things that would make children more curious than watching you pray silently. Of course, the moment they see you at peace, you will get interrupted. However, in this case, an interruption is a good thing.

As you pray in front of your altar, do your best to stay focused and try not to let anything “move” you. When a child comes to interrupt, be calm, explain to them that you are praying to Jesus and to “please be a little patient.” Use a kind, gentle, and loving tone when you say this or you’ll send the wrong message. Continue praying and have them wait one minute for every year of age of the child. If they are two years old, have them wait two minutes, three years old three minutes, etc.

Depending on your child’s age, you may invite them to pray along with you, but make sure to continue on. I had my daughter posturing to pray on her knees with palms together starting at eighteen months. Of course, she couldn’t hold the posture for more than five seconds, but that’s okay. It’s a small beginning of something beautiful and life-long.

The goal is to impress upon children that nothing and no one is more important than praying and connecting with God – not even themselves. I developed this technique after reading Saint Teresa of Avila’s work, The Way of Perfection, which focuses on prayer and detachment. Practicing this technique repeatedly will help them cultivate the virtue of patience and lead them to think of the world outside themselves and up towards God. If we, as parents, model for them that our relationship with God is most important, hopefully they will also learn to put God first in their lives – above all relationships on this world.

There is no need to scold and/or punish your child for interrupting. Doing so will give them a negative association with regard to praying and make them feel neglected. They do not understand the significance of what you are modeling for them. As long as their physical and emotional needs have already been met at that moment and there are no emergencies, simply be calm, ask them to wait, and continue praying. Using this technique daily is key. However, do not beat yourself up for forgetting once in a while – “mom” and “busy” are synonymous.

3.  Develop a family prayer routine

Having a family prayer routine will help your children make praying habitual in their lives. Making prayer a habit means they have internalized the action of praying and connecting with God, our Blessed Mother, and the Saints. Just as someone can form a habit of checking their email first thing in the morning, we can teach our children to form a habit to pray.

It’s not about setting-up a “schedule” to pray. It’s more about recognizing opportunities to raise our hearts and minds to God (which is all the time by the way). Family prayer routines can vary in a million different ways depending on your family’s needs. You may forget a time or two, but once you are consistent, your children will be sure to remind you. Here’s an example of what your family prayer routine might look like:

  • Morning prayer
  • Prayer before meal – breakfast
  • Prayer before homeschooling studies
  • Prayer before meal – lunch
  • Prayer before meal – dinner
  • Bedtime prayer
  • Prayer in the car before the commute
  • Rosary Saturday

It’s never too late to start planting the seeds of faith and virtue through prayer in our children. The hope is that when they are grown, whether life is good or tries to tear them apart, they remember the love and peace with the presence of God as they prayed with you as children. We must always be leading them back to the Lord.

Pray daily, love gently, and nurture your Catholic faith.

ABOUT ALEXANDRA

alexandraAlexandra Kubebatu lives in Texas with her husband and two children. Having earned a B.S. in Instructional Design and Technology, she creates online courses addressing faith and family issues using adult learning theories and studies in early childhood development.

Alexandra has combined both her experience as a certified CCD teacher and academic education to homeschool her children. She enjoys and feels honored to share her unique perspective, experiences, and faith-based parenting techniques with CAPC readers. Alexandra is also an account manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media.

 Image credit:  Dreamstime.com

Praying in Silence with Children: VIDEO

A free video from Apostleship of Prayer.  Love these 3 tips for helping children become comfortable with praying silently.

  1. Timed prayer
  2. Secret good deeds
  3. Listening

Become Like Little Children

Sympathy by Briton Riviere

“Sympathy” by Riviere (1878)

Some religious people would maintain only a mature, adult Christian can act lovingly, with a conscience. Yet Pope Francis and even Sacred Scriptures disagree with this narrow view.

St. Paul explains that God will judge everyone by much how truth God has revealed to them. If a tribe hidden in a jungle has never heard the gospel, God will judge them based on what they know and St. Paul assures us all men have the basic laws of God carved into their hearts. In modern language, we all have an awareness of good and evil — or a conscience.

The problem is tapping into and living out from my core where God has inscribed a moral code on my heart. It is  hidden in my deepest self. Actually, if we can block out our own ego and selfishness and simply stop and listen, even a child knows what is right and what is wrong.

The second problem is finding the strength to do what is right. Thank God for Christ, because he offers an easy way to love. Relax. Give up striving. Surrender to His love and let it saturate every cell of your body. Then simply let His love flow through you. It ends up being a long journey to such carefree lifestyle because pride and ego get in the way. It is so simple that it seems complicated to our adult, logical minds.

No wonder Jesus says,

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

And in even stronger terms,

“I assure you,” He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, you will never get into the kingdom from heaven…’” Matthew 18:4

A relationship to the living God is child’s play. Listen to this exchange between my young children:

One afternoon, I was making dinner, standing at the counter with my back to our three youngest children. Grace and Daniel were lounging around the kitchen table, with three-year-old Rebecca perched like a little elf on a high stool, happily swinging her legs.

Simply making conversation, Grace who was eight, asked Rebecca,

“Rebbecca, whose your favorite, Mum or Dad?”

Rebecca replied,”Both!”

Still facing the counter, I looked over my shoulder and intruded on their conversation, “Smart answer, Rebecca.”

Rebecca was not done, though.  She added, “But she’s not my real mum, Mary is.”

Grace rolled her eyes, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand and said incredulously, “Where does she get this stuff?”

I tried to explain as simply as I could, “Well, the Holy Spirit is in her heart and she listens to His voice.”

Rebecca jumped right back into the discussion and chanted in a sing-song, lilting voice, “That’s right. God the Father in my heart. Baby Jesus in my heart. Holy Spirit in my heart. Mother Mary in my heart . . . but . . . I still like Mum and Dad the best!”

Grace rolled her eyes and plunked her head down on the table with a loud sigh,“Where does she get this stuff?”

I just laughed.

A few weeks later, as I crouched down to tie Rebecca’s shoelace, she picked up the small gold cross I wore around my neck and said,

“This is the cross of Jesus and the glory of God shines all around it.”

Grace rolled her eyes again, slapped her forehead and asked, “WHERE does she get this stuff?

She gets it right from the source of all truth.

********

If you enjoyed Melanie’s charming story, check out her free book on Amazon: Echoes of the Divine:  Slice of Life Stories from a Mother of Nine9.

Raising Children Who Love (or Don’t Hate) Confession

My guest essay on Dr. Greg Popcak’s blog Faith on the Couch:

I’ve heard that some people love going to Confession.  I personally don’t know any of them.  Maybe it’s an urban legend.  I think avoiding the confessional is our human default,

Madonna and Child by Filippo Lippi

Madonna and Child by Filippo Lippi

because we are uncomfortable exposing our weakness to others.  The Church wants us to know that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift.  It’s more an opportunity than a duty.

Confession brings our human failings to the Light where we can find healing, courage, and support.  The devil hates that!  He thrives in the dark, like a fungus.  He wants us to keep our sins and moral struggles to ourselves, because full freedom from them requires community – it requires family, friends, and counselors, especially our priest when he acts as Christ in the confessional.  In particular, as embodied creatures we need the physical experience of the confessional:  when we feel and hear ourselves speaking aloud the truth of our failings, when the priest with his body and his voice acts as Christ extending his mercy to us, we can understand better the power of repentance and the reality of God’s forgiveness.

How can we raise children who understand this deeper truth about Confession, who welcome it as an opportunity?  Here are a few lifestyle tips that may help.  These aren’t lessons our children learn from a book, but rather from the way we relate to them:

Read the rest on Dr. Greg’s website!  Leave a comment, too!

40 Days in the Desert

Cactus Pic

Displaying a cactus in our home during Lent reminds us of the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. Our family purchased a mini cactus at Walmart and printed a simple card with a picture of Jesus in the desert and the scripture passage “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3)

The cactus and prayer card can be placed in a prominent place in your home or on a prayer table as inspiration for reflection. Or use the following prayers and activities based on Jesus’ responses to the devil’s three temptations. Let Jesus‘ time in the desert inspire your family to respond generously to God’s will as you travel through the desert of Lent.

FAST

“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3)

Dear God, please help me to do what You want me to do, even when I really want something else.

Fast:  Give up one of your favorite things to eat

ALMSGIVING

“The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.” (Deut. 6:13)

Dear God, please help me to remember that You are more important than all of my toys, my clothes, and anything else in my life.

 Almsgiving:  Clean out your room and give some of your extra clothes or toys to a charity.

PRAYER

“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” (Deut. 6:16)

Dear God, please help me to completely trust You with everything in my life.

 Prayer:  Show God you trust Him by spending time in prayer every day.

 

Explaining Lent to Our Children

As a new mom, I used to look at my sweet, innocent pre-school aged son and wonder how to explain this Lenten season to him. Would I wait for him to ask me questions? What if he never did? Or worse…what if he did? How would I answer?

While the Christmas season found me gushing to my young son about the Christ child and a humble manger and that beautiful star of Bethlehem, Lent left me speechless. How was I to describe this very difficult part of Jesus’ story, of our story, to him?

crown of thornsThe day when I had to answer that question came before I was ready. We were at church, lighting candles in the chapel when my then three-year-old looked at a particularly bloody Jesus nailed to a cross. “Mommy,” he asked me, “how did Jesus get up there?”

“You mean, how did that cross get hung up there?” I teased him towards an easier question to answer. He didn’t take the bait.

“No.” He pushed further. “Who put Jesus on there?”

Cue butterflies filling the stomach. Had I been wrong in not bringing it up to him first? Was this going to be a shocking blow? My mind scrambled for the right words. How much should I say? How deep into the story should I go?

Before I opened my mouth to speak, I thought of all I’ve learned from my mother, a woman who, with my dad, pretty successfully raised six children. Once, when my sister’s daughter began asking questions about death, I overheard my mom’s advice for handling the situation: “Let your daughter lead these difficult discussions. Too often, we explain these things to kids at a level too deep for them to understand. We forget that it’s children, not adults, asking these hard questions. And we end up answering them as if they’re adults. You’ll be surprised to find that the simplest answers are all they’re usually seeking at the moment. No more. So start simple and let them lead.”

Start simple. I thought of what my son’s three-year-old mind understood. Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Cops and robbers. Good guys and bad guys.

“Well,” I began carefully, “there were bad men who didn’t like Jesus…”

“…and they hurt him?” my son finished.

“Yes,” I answered. I waited, wondering if I should elaborate but willing myself to follow my child’s lead.

“Oh,” he said easily. “I don’t like those bad men.”

I searched my son’s eyes for tears or anger. Instead, I saw compassion as he stared at the crucifix.

“Mommy,” he asked, “can I kiss his boo-boos and make them better?”

“Of course,” I whispered.

As I watched my child approach the crucifix, leaning to kiss Jesus’ nailed feet and reaching up to kiss his bloodied side, my fear and anxiety were replaced with love and peace, and gratitude for my mother’s shared wisdom.

“Let’s go find Daddy,” my son exclaimed, bolting into the church. I almost stopped him. I was ready now. I could do this. I almost wanted to go into further detail about just how much our Lord suffered for our sins, but my son was already at my husband’s side, choosing a pew for Mass.

As usual, my mom was right. My child asked what seemed like a big question, but all he wanted was a simple answer. The difficult details, I know, will fill in as he grows. As his mind gets bigger, so will the answers. But, for now, he’s satisfied.

And so am I.

Last Minute Ideas for Your Family’s Lenten Journey

IMG_3038

A few last minute tips from Marcia Mattern and me to start your family’s Lenten journey on the right foot.  From recent posts on our family blogs:

Favorite read-aloud books for Lent:  Kim shares her family’s favorite books for the Lenten season.

Family altar tips:  Kim shares the symbolism behind the objects she places on  her family altar during Lent.  Also ideas for Ash Wednesday and a salt dough crown with 40 “thorns.”

Accepting the blank page of no plans:  Don’t have all your plans in order?  So what.  Marcia says she won’t be making any grandiose plans this Lent; that she will prepare by being “empty.”  Wow.

Fitting prayer in during Lent:  Marcia acknowledges that it’s hard for busy parents to find time to pray, but that we should at least pray more often.  Practical suggestions.

Don’t worry if  you don’t have everything planned out and in place. God doesn’t need fancy plans to bring blessings on our families during Lent.  He just needs our hearts and our ears.

Please Pass The Joy: The Promise of Candlemas

“Be merry, really merry.  The life of a true Christian should be a perpetual jubilee, a prelude to the festivals of eternity.”  St. Theophane Venard

Joy. I could sure use some after spending three weeks cooped up in a sick household. The beauty of flickering candlelight. The warmth of the sun. The hope of eternal happiness. At the end of the long month of January, we are gifted with a feast that gives us all of these things.

Celebrated on February 2, the Feast of Candlemas is the antidote to the mid-winter blahs. It is a day for reigniting the joy of Christmas–a day for remembering that all we need for real happiness is Christ, the light of the world.

presentation of Christ in the temple by Hans Holbein the Elder

Presentation of Christ in the Temple by Hans Holbein the Elder

There is a lot to understand about this feast. Candlemas celebrates the Presentation of Our Lord and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary–two reminders of the Holy Family’s Jewish heritage and their obedience to the laws of their faith. But at the center of these customs is a Light. In the midst of laws and rituals and rules is a Presence that inspired an old man to proclaim, “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.” (Canticle of Simeon at the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple)

Simeon’s joy is obvious. Can’t you see him forgetting the formality of the moment in the temple as he steps forward to express his joy over seeing the Christ-child?

I want Simeon’s joy to overflow into our era. Rather than burden my young children with too many explanations and history lessons, I want them to simply experience the essence of Candlemas. I want to rise early and smile and giggle over a breakfast of crepes and pancakes. I want to attend morning Mass and return home with a boxful of blessed candles and the grace of a day started right. And when twilight falls, I want to light every candle I can find and watch my children’s eyes grow wide with wonder.

This is the essence of Candlemas. The beauty of candle flames, the hopeful expectation conjured by light pushing out darkness, tastebuds tingling with sweet treats, and eyes brightened by cheerful colors. Celebrating our Catholic feast days trains the senses to fall in love with faith and family. Someday, one of my children might be struggling, or hurting, or questioning, and they will eat a bite of crepe or see the light of a candle and it will all come back: that beautiful day and their loving family, all centered around Christ and His Church. They will see the light and, like Simeon, they will have to follow it. Not because I explained everything perfectly, but because we lived the joy.

May Candlemas bring the joy of the light of Christ to your family!

Resources for Candlemas information and inspiration:

http://catholicfamilyvignettes.com/2009/01/22/in-preparation-for-the-feast-of-candlemas/

http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/p/Presentation.htm

REPORT: What’s Best for Kids? Traditional Families Who Attend Church Together

traditional familyA new study in the Journal of Family Psychology (Special Section: Spirituality and Religion in Family Life: Couples and Marriage) supports earlier studies in the following correlations:  1) Older kids and teens who attend religious services with their parents enjoy greater psychological well-being and 2) residing in a “non-traditional” family (defined as a single parent household or one with a step-family) in late childhood is associated with lower well-being.  Another interesting point:  attending religious services actually “amplifies” the positive aspects of the parent-child relationship.

This is good news for traditional Catholic families!  One could say “I told you so” but then one would just be rubbing it in. 🙂

Here is the pdf if you’d like to read the whole report: Religious Attendance and Child Well-Being and here is the abstract of the study:

Despite numerous studies on adolescent well-being, longitudinal research on the influence of religion on well-being is lacking, and limited studies have looked at how family and religion may work in conjunction with one another to influence adolescent well-being. This study addresses these limitations by using longitudinal data on 5,739 youth to explore whether family structure, changes in family structure, parent–child relationship quality, and religious attendance (overall and with parents) influence trajectories of psychological well-being independently and in conjunction with one another. Results support previous research in showing that parental interaction and attending religious services with parent(s) in late childhood are associated with higher psychological well-being, whereas conflict with parents and residing in a nontraditional family in late childhood are associated with lower well-being among youth. Finally, there is evidence suggesting that attending religious services with parent(s) amplifies the positive influence of parental interaction on psychological well-being, and overall levels of religious attendance over time are less likely to increase well-being among adolescents raised by single parents than for adolescents raised by married parents.

Make a King Cake for Epiphany

If you are looking for something special to make for the Feast of the Epiphany, check out Christina Kolb’s beautiful authentic (but easy, I swear) galette des rois in the winter issue of Tender Tidings!

Her article starts on page 36.