Editor's note: The letter below was written by a Catholic father to his three grown children and their spouses. He writes that the letter “lists twelve concrete steps that they can take to increase the Faith and the spiritual growth of both themselves and their children.”
February 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Dear children and spouses of my children: Recently your Mom and I attended a program for teachers to be formed in the faith (we teach 9th grade Confirmation class). It was very thought-provoking and informative. Although you already are doing a good job with religious instruction, below are a few specific suggestions we gleaned from the program that may help you and your children to deepen your faith and augment your spiritual life.
I regret that I failed to do these very practices when you were younger, but I lacked the necessary wisdom and maturity. Thank God for Mom's intervention and wise instruction. I am now attempting to rectify that serious error. Do not make the same mistake I made and fail to take an active role in the spiritual life and faith formation of your young children.
No one else is going to do this for you.
- Daily Family Prayer. Everyone joins in prayer. Morning, evening, before each meal, and/or bedtime. Consider the Rosary, even if only a decade. The Guardian Angel prayer, St. Michael the Archangel prayer, and Come, Holy Spirit prayer are short but effective prayers that children can easily learn. Brief periods of prayer are clearly better than none at all.
- Sunday Mass and Holy Eucharist. Make the Mass and the reception of the Eucharist the central focus of your family's week. Model for your family humility and deep reverence for Holy Communion.
- Sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance. Go with your children. Aim for once monthly, but no less than every 2-3 months. Remind them that we are all sinners, and that God wants us to ask for His forgiveness.
- The Holy Bible. Read the Bible regularly, including to your children. Again, a few minutes spent reading a few verses is better than none. The Bible provides a solid foundation for our Faith. Before each reading, ask the Holy Spirit to assist you to better understand God's word.
- The Saints. Read about the lives of the Saints to your children at least once weekly. The Saints are role models that we should emulate. Let your children hear their remarkable yet very human stories. Start with their patron Saints. The Saints' stories of individual courage and boldness, many even in the face of death, will inspire them as they encounter the dangers of the modern secular culture.
- Catholic/Christian Culture. Place the crucifix and pictures and/or statues of the Blessed Mother and/or Saints in a prominent location throughout your home. Do not hide your Faith from your children, or neighbors or visitors.
- Gratitude. Thank God frequently throughout each day for His gifts and His Grace. Compliment and thank your spouse regularly for his/her sacrifice. Educate your children about all the gifts God has already bestowed upon them, most importantly life itself, the gift of faith, and you as their parent.
- Dedication. Begin each day with a short prayer to ask God to assist you to draw closer to Jesus, our Lord and God, and to become a better Catholic, a better man or woman, a better father or mother, a better son or daughter, a better sibling.
- Discipline. Challenge yourself to set aside dedicated time each day, even if only five minutes, to pray to God and listen to His response. Silence is required to hear the voice of God. Devote time to Him.
- Talk. Set aside uninterrupted and dedicated time, even if only for 10-15 minutes, to talk with your children in an unhurried and attentive manner. Aim to do this daily, but no less than three times per week. During this time, turn off everything – television, radio, cell phones, video games. Allow no exceptions.
- Volunteer. Seek to perform some charitable service as an entire family at your Church and/or at a local community agency, even if only once or twice per year.
- Trust. Even when times are tough, when there is a storm in your life and seemingly nowhere to turn, trust completely in God that He will calm the storm, just as He did for the Apostles in the boat, and provide you with a safe and welcoming shelter.
Bonus. Laudate App. The most popular Catholic app. Add this to your iPhone. This app has daily Mass readings, reflections, stories on the Saint of the Day, prayers, etc. Mom highly recommends it!
Never stop striving to be the saint that God is calling you to become. Hear and follow His voice.
Mom and I are immensely proud of you and your children. Continue the good work.