Every family has their own wonderful ways to encourage and teach each other. Here are a few of mine. I’d love to hear a few of your ideas too!
- Display a colorful book at the breakfast table (a children’s bible, a book of saints etc.)
- Gift cute stuffed animals that have a little recording of a bedtime prayer.
- Play bible games (memory, Pictionary, trivia).
- Have kids flip your rotating Christian calendar.
- Host parties for Saint’s feast days.
- Put up hand written Scripture verses around the house from your own personal prayer.
- Celebrate saint feast days specific to your children.
- Let your kids light a candle at a church on a special day – like the anniversary of their baptism.
- Give Holy Water to your children and let them bless the house.
- Start your drive on long trips with a prayer.
- Pray the rosary in the car.
- Listen to cd’s about saints, scripture or good stories.
- Explain basic prayer into words kids understand.
- Participate in Feed My Starving Children with your family.
- Pray every night at bed time.
- Make a morning offering with your kids.
- Walk your kids on a tour of your church.
- Walk the stations of the cross as a family during a time when the church is open but not busy.
- Emphasize the physical motions of piety and reverence during Mass. (Kids love kinesthetic learning!)
- Aim to do a devotion every morning with your kids.
For 10 more tips…
I didn’t used to be crazy about the saints until I realized that they were becoming my friends. As I get to know the stories of their childhood, their struggles and their ways of living out deep concepts, I myself find a strong grace at work in my own thoughts and actions. Surprisingly, I can see this effect in my children too as they relate to Christians from the past and carry a kindred connection to the present. Here are three of my favorite ways of getting to know a saint. I call it “easy” because the writing of these three approaches is simple, story like- almost candy. Continue reading “3 Easy Ways to Get to Know the Saints”
Sometimes getting ready for the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be like staring at a blank wall. We don’t know where to start. Plus, you might be freaked out because you don’t remember what to do once your are in the confessional. Here are two guides that that my family uses. 1. One of the guides is to prepare (we often do this in the car on the way to the church, at the church in the pews or in line for confession). 2. The other guide is a cheat sheet to bring in to the confessional so we remember the steps. Priests way of conducting Reconciliation vary quiet a bit so, this can make any guide a bit ridged at times.
You can use this word document or read below.
Confession Steps and Prep
Continue reading “Guide for Confession”
There is a wellspring of things to offer to God and receive from him by simply looking at your life. This prayer never seems to get old because life is so full and God is so active. Here is my version of this “examen” or “reviewing of my day with God.” Most of it was passed on to me by some great Jesuits. 5-7 minutes is an ideal amount of time for this prayer but depending upon circumstances, it can take between 30 seconds to 30 minutes. Whether you pray with words, feelings or images, lift up everything to God, bringing your life into the loving Light of Christ. Periodically you can adapt this to review a certain season in your life instead of just a day.
Prayerful Review of the Day
Pray for Light
- Ask that you can look at this day with His light.
- “Holy Spirit, please enlighten my mind so I may see this day you gave me in truth and love.”
From this day, for what am I most thankful?
Where do I see God’s grace active in this day?
- Converse with Jesus about these things and listen to what these good things mean in your life.
- “Thank you… Jesus, you are… This is special because…”
- Allow gratitude to well up. Offer it back to the Father with love.
From this day, for what am I least thankful?
What needs to be converted?
What was a challenge?
- Converse with Jesus about these things and listen to what needs healing.
- “Please forgive me… I’m sad… Please help…”
- Offer it back to the Father with love.
Tomorrow with Christ
- Converse with Jesus about how God wants to (or has already) equip you for tomorrow.
- “What concept, scripture verse or resolution shall I carry in my heart for tomorrow?”
- Make a tiny resolution about your own action for tomorrow. Ask for God’s grace to fulfill it.
Judging from my smile, you would never have guessed that I was burning on inside but there were a handful of years in my life when vicious words swirled in my mind and anger took the place of peace. Disappointment, lack of sleep, failure and chaos certainly contributed to this mental/emotional state but years later, after coming out of that fog, I am amazed to see that the things that really made a difference were small things that God gently fostered which bought me to a place of greater ease.
Have you ever felt seething frustration that you can’t seem to shake? Continue reading “God Melted my Anger”
If you listen to a kid pray the Lord’s Prayer, it is super cute “our father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name”… until you realize that she has no idea what she is saying. Even for adults, it is easy to zip through the prayer without meaning the words because they are different from the terms we usually speak. So, here’s a translation for a 9 year old:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
God, you are our father. You are in heaven. Continue reading “Howard be thy name?!?… the Our Father for kids”
Autumn and Natalie Merchant are similar. I get all sentimental, sad and discontent when Natalie Merchant enticingly sings,
“Theeeese are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since
Will the whole world be warm as this…”
It makes me miss childhood, high school, college, engagement, young adulthood, the toddler years, these years. It makes me prematurely miss today and tomorrow. Fall feels the same way at times. Goodbye summer. Goodbye warmth. It was fun while it lasted. But now, eternal winter is around the corner and you can never return to this glory.
Well, thankfully, those are mostly lies. Continue reading “You Will Bloom More than Once”
We pray as a family around the fireplace every so often and sometimes just as a married couple. Since this time is not always easy, it can help to have some format. Here’s an idea to try adapting along with your own message:
Bless the Lord, o my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name. (or a different song)
Light Candle with Prayer
Leader: “This candle reminds us that Jesus is with us.”
All: “Jesus, you are welcome here.”
Leader: “We come together as a family to love you, to listen to you and to be filled up with you.”
Deliver a good short message to the family using the bible, a book, storytelling, art, conversation, witnessing etc. Ideas: a healing story of Jesus’, the importance of kindness, the definition of love… Continue reading “Family Prayer”
Serendipitously, yesterday morning, I was able to go to Mass. Since I had begun writing about the various challenges to the concept of accepting everything as coming from the Will of God, it was on my mind. My buoyant spirit upon embarking this endeavor was slightly checked by a memory of the end of the book of Job when he actually encounters God. Job puts his hand over his mouth and basically says, “You are God and I am not. You do whatever you want to do. I’m just going to be quiet now.” Well, guess where the first reading was from today? Yup. The book of Job. It is in the middle, before the aforementioned hand-over-his-mouth. Although some pretty rough things are happening in Job’s life, he says of God, Continue reading “Is Everything the Will of God? -part 2 (a slight pause for humility)”
Super relaxing. Gentle encouragement. Christ focused. I’ve been enjoying this app called “Pray As You Go” as I commute to work or on a quick jaunt to the grocery store. Its a 15 minute meditation on some bible readings. The readers (British Jesuits) usually have cool accents and they feature music from all over the map. What is your favorite “car meditation” app? Let’s not get too comfy now, right?!