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Author: Benedict

What Every Mother Have to Understand About Raising Catholic Kids

What Every Mother Have to Understand About Raising Catholic Kids

What Parents Should Know

Understanding several things will assist Catholic parents to navigate the exciting world of raising their children well. First, parents should know that the world, generally, will not support their efforts to raise their children in the Catholic faith. That’s not being negative. It’s stating a fact, which is also nothing new. Since the time Jesus walked the earth Christian beliefs and Christians themselves have been persecuted. We have to arm ourselves with a joyful demeanor and live the Christian live fully without expecting it to be easy or to be applauded.  The world will frequently contradict our desires to be modest, chaste, kind, generous, patient, temperate, and holy. We must be modest, chaste, kind, generous, patient, temperate and holy anyway. The world will tell us to chase materialism, earthly goods, fame, power, “success”.  We must reject that and reach for higher goals, and teach our children to do the same. We have to look forward to being revolutionaries, of sorts, radically living in peace, for Christ. And recall, revolutionaries, don’t essentially have support groups.

Yes, there may be pockets here and there of support, of like-minded people who are striving to raise their children the way that we are, and finding these folks will be blessed relief and consolation like cold water is to a thirsty soul. Indeed, we should seek out like-minded parents to network and brainstorm with them, but we must not expect to rely on them in all cases, at all times. God alone will be our perfect strength as we seek to do His will, well, in our families.

Second, parents should also understand that children learn far more from example than preaching or formal lessons. The best way we can raise good Catholic children is to be good Catholic people ourselves. Children learn temperance by seeing us model that. They learn kindness of speech by seeing that exemplified in us. They understand to love the Mass and sacraments when we love the Mass and sacraments and bring them with us to experience them. We don’t need to preach to the children the relevance of praying the rosary, in as much as sharing stories and the Church’s guidance in this regard is good. We have to give them little plastic rosaries when they are just toddlers and snuggle with them on our laps as we recite the mysteries and pray this prayer ourselves. Our Catholic faith must be completely integrated in our lives, both for our own good and so our children can absorb it.

Third, parents should know that perseverance is crucial because suffering often comes with the territory of raising children. This can be hard to understand when one in the midst of it, particularly at the start. We might initially address child-raising like we have other ‘projects’- We make a plan. We give our best efforts.  We expect instant positive results because we have tried so difficult and done our research. Yet, raising good Catholic children is not like any other “project”. It takes more time, more faith, more trust than anything else we have ever done. Oftentimes circumstances arise in child-rearing that push us to the very core of ourselves and elicit suffering, sometimes great suffering. This is perfectly normal. You see, God molds us as we mold our children. These are “growing pains”, of sorts. The progress toward holiness, in fact, should be a family endeavor.  If we stay close to Him we have nothing to fear and are assured of “success”, in His time, in His way.

What Parents Should Do

There is no formula for raising good Catholic children into good Catholic adults, but we can use a strategy that many parents have discovered and which really isn’t that complicated. It is best remembered by thinking of the seven Rs: Receive, Read, Remember, Remain, Rely, Rejoice, Relax.

Receive the sacraments soon and frequently

This cannot be said enough. Baptize babies immediately. If Aunt Martha can’t make it for two months to see the baby, go ahead and throw the baptismal party when it’s convenient for her, but don’t postpone the sacrament to fit her or anyone’s schedule. It is crucial that the child receive his baptism as soon as possible after birth. It is less crucial that mom is up for visitors, and more important that the baby enter the Church. On a similar note, make a family confession date every single month. Some families like to go out for ice cream afterwards or plan another little treat. The sacrament of confession is critical for the spiritual growth of everyone. We wouldn’t dream of going months without showering, which cleanses our bodies, so why should we consider going more than a month without Confession, which cleanses our souls? Lastly, we should take the children to Mass more than once a week on Sunday. An entire book can be written why, but suffice it to say here they will grow spiritually, understand how to better behave and we mothers will reap rewards as well.

– Read To Your Child 

Start with simple toddler bible stories when they are small, then move on to other Catholic board books and short stories which teach the Faith in simple terms. Incorporate these into evening story time. As your child grows older, add the “real” bible, the catechism, enriching words from all sources. Take the time to teach your children simple apologetics. The complexity of the apologetics books chosen can grow with your child’s age and wisdom.  Snuggling on the sofa with a good book and your child can be bonding like few things are, and will help your child grow in Faith if you choose the right reading.

Remember that you are not alone

Your spouse is your partner in raising your child in the Faith. Daddies offer perspectives and wisdom that mommies can’t, simply because they are men and we are not. Be a team player and be open to your spouse’s ideas and suggestions.

Rely on God’s Good Graces

Have confidence in Him.

Rejoice

Be grateful. Enjoy each moment, each stage and yes, each challenge. As we strive to raise our children well we will see personal growth too. God is so good.

Relax

Give yourself a break when you need one, and find ways to spiritually re-charge. Go to a bible study at your parish alone, take time for personal prayer, or meet a like-minded friend for lunch and exchange of ideas. Try hard but don’t expect perfection right off the bat. If you misbehave, forgive yourself and get up and try again. Remember a fool sits enjoying a mud puddle, but an equal fool may recognize his situation yet sits and laments his fate in the puddle without trying to get out. A wise person discovers when she is deep “in the mud”, gets up, wipes herself off (Confession) and tries again, careful to avoid the puddle the next time.  An eighth “R” might also be to recognize that “success” is not measured by external cues alone. God works in mysterious ways in the deep recesses of the human soul. He is working on our children as He is working on us.  Trust Him.

5 Ways You Can Sincerely Say ‘Thanks’ to God

5 Ways You Can Sincerely Say ‘Thanks’ to God

How can we sincerely say “thanks” to our Heavenly Father? Well, thankfully our Creator has given us a lot of ways to do just that.

Here Are Five Of Them:

1. Go to Mass

Sure, you know the word “eucharist” is from the Greek for “thanksgiving” or “gratitude.” But, of course, uppercase-“E” Eucharist refers to Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. When the Catechism of the Catholic Church asks “What is this sacrament called?” its first answer is “Eucharist, because it is an action of thanksgiving to God.”

Great! Go to Mass. A done deal. Next.

Not so fast. It’s an action of thanksgiving, which actually means us doing something there besides stand, sit, kneel, walk up for Communion, stay for a closing hymn and head out the door. Without our actively taking part in the Mass — praying with others, offering our own private prayers, reverently receiving the Blessed Sacrament, joining in the singing — then we’re pretty much like that child blurting a fast and nearly thoughtless “thank you” to please their Mom.

2. Do what Jesus told us to do

What does that mean for us? Yes, he said take part in the breaking of the bread in memory of him (Lk 22:19), but he also said something about “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).

What better way to show gratitude for the gift of faith than to live the Faith? How do we live it? Love as Jesus loved. And how do we do that? Find out by spending some time this year — each month, each week, each day — reading about how he did it. Spend time “praying” the Gospels.

Then, too, living the Faith — living our gratitude to God — means living the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Sometimes that can be specifically difficult, but other times it’s pretty simple. Small choices throughout the day can develop over time into virtuous habits that make us more inclined and better prepared to tackle those tough opportunities.

3. Don’t put a gift from God in your sock drawer

What? most times we receive a gift from a family member or friend and quietly tuck it away in a dresser drawer. It’s not something we need, want, know how to use or even like.

When we do that with a gift from God it runs counter to what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30). The lesson? Use what God gives you!

Sometimes a gift becomes a profession, but, not inconsistently, it’s an avocation. (You’re the one who supplies those marvelous casseroles for funeral receptions.)

Observe the talents God has given you, develop them, and use them to assist others.

4. Say ‘thank you’ to others … and mean it

Consider this: In explaining the Last Judgment, Jesus said, “What you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me” (Mt 25:45). So part of what you can simply do for others throughout this new year, which is this gift from God, is to thank them. “Thank you” to the store clerk. Your child’s teacher. The Sunday homilist. And on and on.

5. Write it down

This makes a great New Year’s resolution. One that’s is not impossible to keep track of.

Even those who hold little stock in religion or spirituality have discovered keeping a daily journal or log of people, events and things for which they’re thankful assists them mentally and physically.

You — lucky you, thank God — have that added layer or, more clearly, that foundation of Catholicism. Jotting down a few things at the end of every day can be a prayer of thanksgiving. Why? Because you know the source of all goodness, blessings, grace, and love.

5 Lessons from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

5 Lessons from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament

Of all the gifts that God has given his Church, the greatest is without question the Blessed Sacrament, for it is nothing less than the body, blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus himself. In the Eucharistic host, our Divine Savior lives among men in his fullness. He is truly God with us—what could be greater than this?

Characteristics of Jesus in the Eucharist and what his presence can teach us about both holiness and masculinity.

1. Humility

In the Blessed Sacrament, we see the deep humility of Jesus Christ. Here, the Eternal Wisdom of God who made all things, the brightness of the Eternal Father, condescends to come among us in the form of the most ordinary food. After all, bread is simple fare, the food of the poor. Unlike a fine cut of meat, bread is almost always eaten as a side that is not easy to be noticed.

If we are to imitate Christ, we must first and foremost exercise humility. The servant is not greater than his Master. We must give all glory to God, deciding to be humble and unassuming—like a piece of bread.

2. Silence

Men have always appreciated quiet strength, strength that is expressed more by deeds than empty words. In the Eucharistic host, Jesus greets us with complete silence. He is ready to adhere to all that we have to say, and he only speaks in return when we have quieted our hearts and are absolutely silent as he is. And lastly, he is ready to act on our behalf if we only have confidence in his promises.

The saints continually praise the virtue of silence, and we are warned that we will be judged for every idle word. Do we waste words? More than this, do we hear what others are saying? As men, we often struggle to listen, and yet listening is an act of love. Pay attention to your wife or those others around you who may be desperate for someone to pay attention.

3. Vulnerability

In the host, Christ is absolutely vulnerable. Far too often, he is mistreated and abused, ignored and maligned, treated casually and without dignity. Yet, this is the price he willing to pay to live among his people. No matter how many times he is profaned and trampled upon, literally or figuratively, he continues to come to us again and again, saying “I will never leave you.”

Do we love in this way? Do we open our hearts to others, even though it may mean the pain of rejection? Do we forgive 70 times 7? We cannot love if we close our hearts in fear. We must be courageously vulnerable—like Christ.

4. Patience

Christ waits patiently for you and I in tabernacles and monstrances around the world. He would wait an eternity for a single visit. He waits for us to repent when we stray; he waits for our words of allegiance and affection; he waits to hear of our joys and sorrows; he waits to answer our innermost desires.

Like Christ, we too must be patient with others, particularly with those who least deserve it or who try our patience the most. We must also wait with forgiving hearts for those who have harmed or abandoned us to return.

5. Presence

The gift of God’s presence is the greatest gift. To the ancient Israelites, there was no greater calamity than the abstaining of the presence of the Lord. In the same manner, there was no greater comfort than the assurance of his presence.

It is the same today. If we have Jesus, we need all things; without him, we have nothing. Yet, we do not have to travel far to find the presence of Christ—he is as close as the nearest parish, the accomplishment of the ancient “bread of the presence” in the Jewish temple. Nor is his presence an abstraction or an idea, it is real and tangible to our senses. We Catholics can joyfully and truthfully say, “The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

If we are to follow Christ, we must be present to those who want us. How many absentee fathers and husbands there are! How many wives and children have been left by the man who is called to lay down his life for them. Are you present to your family? Are your wife and children your priority? If you are a husband and father, your presence is an irreplaceable gift. Be present.

The Rosary: Where it Came From and its Importance

The Rosary: Where it Came From and its Importance

The Rosary has been a significant sacramental that has blessed the faith of Catholics for centuries.

It is a timeless aid to contemplation that marks the wonderful rhythm of human life on a beaded rope that can serve as a lifeline to individual salvation.

But what makes the Rosary an help to salvation is the fact of its deep and powerful connection to the Bible and the Divine mysteries that are tied to Jesus’ redemptive stay on earth.

As author Father Oscar Lukefahr has written, “the mysteries of the rosary convert the Bible into prayer.” The Rosary then binds Catholics to the historical life of Christ and foreshadows their eternal destiny and union with Christ in heaven.

Catholics must not forget that while a devotion to the Blessed Mother is a vital part of the Rosary’s historical and spiritual relevance, it is basically a Christ-centered prayer in which Catholics pray to the Son through His Mother.  In the words of the Hail Mary, it is Christ, as Luke reported, who is the ultimate object both of the announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: Blessed is the fruit of your womb.

The Rosary blends easily with the Christian way of life.

In her essay, “The Rosary: A Prayer for All Seasons Gloria Hutchinson compares the Rosary to “an Olympic champion emerging from early retirement.” She writes that the Rosary has regained its lofty position as “an ever-reliable prayer for all seasons” since Pope John Paul II proclaimed 2002 the Year of the Rosary.  Hutchinson reminds Catholics that the Rosary has continually been a peoples’ prayer.

The sweet chain of prayer

The form of the Rosary remained necessarily not transformed until 2002 when John Paul II instituted five new mysteries.

He called them the Luminous Mysteries because they portray Jesus’ public ministry, including His baptism, Cana, the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration and the Last Supper in a new light. Since His public ministry is an important link between His early years and His passion and death on the Cross, these new mysteries reveal the true meaning of His earthly presence, while filling in the public gap between his joyful youth and the sadness and pain related with Calvary. The Pope also added the Luminous Mysteries to enkindle a renewed interest in the Rosary as a true gateway into the Incarnation.

With the addition of the Luminous Mysteries the Rosary’s intimate connection with the Gospels is even more clear.

It completed what Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) called “the sweet chain linking us to God.” It is Christ’s years of his public ministry that most display the Incarnation as a “mystery of light.” As John’s Gospel says “while I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The mystery of light that best shows the relevance of the Luminous Mysteries is the Transfiguration.

The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the surprised apostles to listen to him and to get ready to experience with Him the agonies of Good Friday, so that they may be able to enjoy their own Easter with Him in heaven.
Mary and the Rosary

Even Mary’s relationship to the Rosary has not been without conflict. Since the Hail Mary is the dominant prayer of the Rosary, her critics contend that Mary and her Rosary are a distraction from Jesus Christ, the true focal point of Christianity. Religious scholars have long noted that this is a canard that has no bearing on the Rosary’s true history.

The Council of Ephesus in 431 settled her title in the Hail Mary, the “Mother of God” in light of the Arian heresy that denied Christ’s divinity. Arians called Mary only the Mother of Christ because they believed Jesus to be just a man and so His mother could not be the Mother of God.

On another note, to correct what some theologians thought was an unbalanced devotion to Mary, the post-Vatican II Church has toned down its devotional routines honoring Mary in order to refocus on her Son.

Mary’s Fatima apparitions are the event that has most dramatized the power and majesty of the Rosary.

On October 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told three Portuguese shepherd children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.

I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and to beseech pardon for their sins…. People must say the Rosary.” Mary impressed upon the children how necessary it was to pray the Rosary daily for world peace.She warned them that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world.

A secret weapon

In fact the Rosary has been a constant source of devotion throughout the history of the Church. Garry Wills’ book, The Rosary highlights that for countless Catholics who matured before the Second Vatican Council the Rosary was a daily routine. He cites the story of the late William F. Buckley who developed the habit of saying the rosary as a small boy.

In his published diary, Overdrive, Buckley revealed that he had learned to count on his fingers the decades of the Rosary when one wasn’t available. It was to him “alifelong routine gained in childhood.”