A Pastoral Message to Families by:
Most Reverend John J. Myers, D.D., J.C.D.
Bishop of Peoria
The theme of the United Nations' 1994 International Year of the Family is "Family Resources and Responsibilities in a Changing World." Surely the Christian message is itself the prime resource, renewed in each generation in the teaching of the Church. In his Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II discusses the nature and destiny of the family as two inseparable realities. The Holy Father teaches that in the plan of God the family has a mandate to follow. "The family finds in the plan of God the creator and redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. . . . Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored and that specifies both its dignity and its responsibility: Family, become what you are." (Familiaris Consortio no. 17) Another document for consideration, published in conjunction with the UN 1994 Year of the Family, is the message to families from the Bishops of the United States: Follow the Way of Love. This message is being reproduced by The Catholic Post.
The teaching of the Holy Father was the subject of reflection in the discussions of the Diocesan Pastoral Council in March of 1993. The focus of this gathering was "parents as primary religious educators." Essentially, the DPC resounded our Holy Father's mandate, "Family, become what you are," and sought to help families apply it in the various contexts and difficulties in which they find themselves.
Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation outlines a way by which families fulfill the mandate of becoming what they are. First and foremost, the family needs to recognize itself as a community of life and of love. In doing this, the family reflects and shares God's creative love for humanity and the love Christ has for the Church. The family has four tasks to fulfill in order to realize this vision:
- to form a community of persons (nos. 18 ff.),
- to serve life (nos. 28 ff.),
- to participate in the development of society (nos. 42 ff.),
- to share in the life and mission of the Church (nos. 49 ff.).
Regarding this first task, "to form a community of persons," the family must see that its permanent power and its final goal is love. "Without love the family is not a community of persons and, in the same way, without love the family cannot live, grow and perfect itself as a community of persons." (no. 18) The primary relationship of love in the family is that between husband and wife - matrimonial love. As such, the matrimonial relationship is the soul and foundation of the family. Incidentally, today, December 26, 1993, the Holy Father recalled this theme in his Angelus message to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Plaza:
"Today more than ever it is urgent to rediscover the value of the family as a community founded on the indissoluble marriage of a man and a woman who, with their love, blend their existence into one and open themselves to the gift of life; to rediscover the family as the vital milieu where each child who comes into the world is welcomed from the moment of its conception, with tenderness and gratitude, and where it finds all that is necessary to grow up serenely."
The second task in service to life is realized chiefly through the bearing and education of children. Through openness to life, the family not only guarantees the stability of society, but it also helps fashion the quality of that society. The family's crucial service to life occurs physically as children are brought into the world and spiritually as values and traditions are handed on. This service extends to the development of the potential of each family member at every age. "The fruitfulness of conjugal love is not restricted solely to the procreation of children,.. It is enlarged and enriched by all those fruits of moral, spiritual and supernatural life which the father and mother are called upon to hand on to their children, and through the children to the church and to the world." (No. 28)
The third task of the family is "participating in the development of society." This is accomplished when the family, by respecting and fostering personal dignity, chastity and honesty inculcates in the young values such as respect, justice, dialogue, and love. In transmitting Christian values to their children, families, individually and working together, ultimately contribute to the building up of society on Gospel values. Families are, in sum ''the first and irreplaceable school of social life." (No. 43)
Families share in the life and mission of the Church, and this is their fourth task. Family involvement on this ecclesial level occurs when the family becomes, in the security and warmth of individual homes, a believing and evangelizing community - a community in dialogue with God, and a community at the service of one another and ultimately of all humanity. "In the love between husband and wife and between the members of the family- a love lived out in all its demands: totality, oneness, fidelity and fruitfulness"- that the Christian family participates and expresses Christ's mission. (No. 50)
As bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, and spiritual father of its members, I would like to offer the following reflections in response to the work of the Diocesan Pastoral Council in 1993.
Priests are the primary religious educators on the parish level. As "fathers brothers, pastors and teachers," they have the important task of enlightening others with the Church's teachings, about which they must be secure. According to Familiaris Consortio no. 73, "their teaching and advice must... always be in full harmony with the authentic magisterium of the Church, in such a way as to help the people of God to gain a correct sense of the faith to be subsequently applied to practical life."
To priests and all leaders in religious education, I would like to draw attention to the fact that we celebrate this year the twenty-fifth anniversary of the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae "Concerning human life,'' a document Pope John Paul II refers to often in Familiaris Consortio. Pope Paul VI's encyclical frequently has been dismissed out of hand, often by people who have never read it. As a result, the Church's timeless and prophetic teaching on marital love in this document often goes unappraised. Priests and leaders in religious education should have a copy of and be thoroughly acquainted with the contents of Humanae Vitae. Additionally, I encourage priests to consider participating in our recently formed chapter of Priests for Life - a body organized to assist priests in understanding and preaching on a broad spectrum of moral issues, all touching in some way or other on the sanctity of human life.
To Diocesan Offices and Agencies, I offer my gratitude. Both the Office of Family Life and the Office of Natural Family Planning have greatly assisted me with the important task of reaching out to the engaged and married, with their questions, needs and difficulties. My expectation would continue to be that those who represent the diocese in workshops and programs will be informed by a firm understanding of the Church's teaching on the dignity of human life in its transmission and development. In this regard, my thoughts go immediately to marriage preparation and RCIA programs. Naturally, Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, (especially nos. 77 ff.), the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Holy Father's most recent encyclical Veritatis Splendor are primary pastoral documents here.
Coming as I do from a large immediate and extended family, my thoughts are regularly directed to families and family issues. To all of the families in the Diocese of Peoria I would like first to offer my prayers and support in the trials and issues which confront you in your everyday lives. And yet, notwithstanding the pressures which attend every relationship, our economic and social challenges, our thoughts must return to those principles which help families become what they are, wherever they are. Through programs offered by the Office of Family Life of the Diocese of Peoria (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Pastoral Center, 412 NE Madison, Peoria, Illinois 61603 (309-671-1550), and from parish programs and personal initiative, tools exist to help families form themselves as a loving community of persons, in service to life, participating in the development of society, and sharing in the life and mission of the Church.
I warmly recommend a review of the enclosed "Checklist for Parents" as a means of gauging spiritual growth. It is a detailed summary of the many recommendations made by the members of the 1993 DPC. Moreover, prayerfully consider obtaining and employing some of the fine materials mentioned in the attendant "resource list." While neither of these resources is definitive, I hope you will value them as fundamental tools for family renewal.
Since the Diocesan Pastoral Council observes that the media play an important part in the life of the family and its formation, the media's power for good or ill must be understood and appreciated. I ask that the Office of Family Life, in cooperation with the Office of Communications and The Catholic Post, consider ways of addressing media literacy for priests, parents, children, and teachers in an effort to assist in responsible media viewing.
The council calls for stronger use of the media in evangelization. I therefore request the Office of Evangelization and other offices just mentioned to explore avenues for this apostolate. I am grateful for the initiatives already being taken, especially such recent efforts as the broadcast of the Papal Mass and the "Family Page" in The Catholic Post.
The Council requests clarification regarding preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. I am, therefore, requesting the Presbyteral Council subcommittee on Confirmation to work with the Offices of Religious Education and Divine Worship to prepare guidelines and suggestions regarding materials for catechetical preparation and liturgical celebration. These should be prepared with a family focus in mind.
The use of sacramentals, family devotions and family prayer were recommended by the Council. I think it helpful for the Office of Family Life to consider resources that families might use to develop and deepen these aspects of family prayer life. In this endeavor, account should he taken of the various liturgical seasons.
The Pastoral Council has asked for continuing education for parents and other adults. In response, the Office of Family Life is putting forth programs that clearly support and demonstrate the role of parents as primary educators. The "Catholic Family Library Program," "The Gift of Cana," and the promotion of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church are manifestations of this task of education. I strongly encourage parishes and families to establish basic home library resources and study groups of Catholic doctrine, particularly as it touches on the family.
The regional study groups that the Office of Family Life offers, including the Character Building Program, will assist parents in developing virtues in children. This will prepare the way for a more complete chastity education program in the home. Additionally, the 1994 Summer Catechetical Institute sponsored by the Diocesan Office of Religious Education will focus on the relationship of parents and educators with the theme of "Sharing in the Life and Mission of the Church: Virtue education in the classroom and in the home." I encourage all parents and educators to attend.
Insofar as Catholic families are called to evangelize the world in the areas of chaste family living, it is clearly important that the designation of 1994 as the International Year of the Family be recognized as a providential occasion for the Church. Let all church leaders and organizations within thc Diocese of Peoria redouble their efforts in prayer and action on behalf of families. Let them be bold in proclaiming the Church's vision of permanence, fidelity, and openness to life.
I would like to conclude by encouraging the study of Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio within parishes and families. Although surely it will entail an often heroic struggle, our effort to make the vision of the family as presented in Familiaris Consortio our own is ultimately the only means of renewing the Church and society from the ground up.
The fullness of the Catholic faith can be realized within the family only when families and parishes work together in the partnership of formation. The liturgy, especially the parish celebration of each of the sacraments, enriches family ritual. At the same time, family ritual enhances our appreciation of liturgy and the sacraments.
Each Catholic family must be encouraged to see, in a daily deeper fashion, that the Sacraments are gifts from God which enable family members to fulfill their tasks. They are the means par excellence by which strength is given to fulfill the mandate articulated by the Holy Father, "Family, become what you are." The Eucharist - the center of our Catholic community and the families which comprise it - is without fail nourishment in this holy pursuit.
On this Feast of the Holy Family let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Given at my Chancery this 26th day of December 1993.
+Most Rev. John J. Myers
Bishop of Peoria
A Checklist for Parents
Holy Families and spirit-filled children don't just arise spontaneously; they are the product of a long nurturing process that begins in youth and continues into adulthood.
The basis for the spiritual growth of children is the enduring and unconditional love of parents. It is the conscientious parents who prune away the dead branches of sin, nip bad habits in the bud, and cultivate the good in each child that produce holy families.
Parents are the primary educators of their children. No fleeting goal that parents can set - not fame, not power, not fortune - is more important than choosing to train their children to be imitators of Christ. For it is in doing so (or not doing so) that parents' actions can have everlasting consequences.
In light of this fact, parents must reflect on the awesome responsibility that rests squarely on their shoulders. Parents must be willing to invest a precious commodity - time - in their children. Not only is time required in large doses, it must be well spent. Without an investment of self, parents can have no reasonable expectation of raising spirit-filled children.
In his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consorito, Pope John Paul II emphasizes the irreplaceable role that parents play in the spiritual formation of their children. He lists a variety of examples that parents might implement in their homes.
"Apart from morning and evening prayers, certain forms of prayer are to be expressly encouraged, following the indications of the synod Fathers, such as reading and meditating on the word of God, preparation for the reception of the sacraments, devotion and consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the various forms of veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, grace before and after meals, and observance of popular devotions." (No. 61)
Members of the 1993 Diocesan Pastoral Council reflected on this document. They proposed numerous recommendations to guide parents in their role as primary educators of their children.
The following is an expanded list of their ideas. Read over each idea and reflect on it carefully. Consider how you might incorporate some of these activities into your family life in the hope of bringing your children closer to God.
Do you take the time to teach your children to pray? Even a two-year-old child can learn to recite such basic prayers as "Angel of God," "Our Father," and "Hail Mary." Older children can learn many more prayers - the acts of Contrition, Faith, Hope and Charity - just a small part of the patrimony of the Church. Get yourself a good prayer book and teach your children how to pray.
Do you make time for prayer with your family? Family prayers at mealtime, upon rising and retiring, during special times set aside for this purpose, provide a moment of grace. Some families say the rosary as a nightly tradition. Other families set aside time each week to make a holy hour of adoration or reparation before the Blessed Eucharist. Even a few minutes of family prayer can go a long way toward showing the importance of God in your life.
Do you take time out for heart-to-heart talks with your children? Taking a walk or going on a drive can provide parents with an opportunity to talk with their children about life's most important matters. Themes such as thankfulness, joy, or sorrow can serve as the basis for discussions about God and your faith.
Do you take advantage of teachable moments to instruct your children in the faith? Children have inquiring minds and have a knack for posing questions. They will often ask parents about the spiritual or religious dimension of life: "Why are they baptizing my baby brother?" "What happened to Grandma when she died?" "Why do some people want to kill their babies?" Take advantage of this interest to teach aspects of the faith.
Do you take advantage of unexpected opportunities to instruct your children? Nearly every day we see people in real life or on television doing right and wrong. When you and your children see an action that has a moral dimension, it's good to use the experience to teach a related aspect of the faith.
Do you make judicious use of the TV? By the time an average child reaches Kindergarten he or she will have spent more than 5,000 hours in front of the television. In all likelihood this will be more time than the child will spend communicating with either parent during their entire lifetime. Considering the moral and social values expressed in this medium, one has to question if this is good. TV-associated electronic games, with their intensity and propensity for violence, may also have deleterious effects on children - notably increased aggression and shortened attention spans. Consider limiting access or providing formative substitute materials. Such items can be obtained through organizations like the Family Resources Center in Peoria.
Do you read Bible stories to your youngest children and provide similar reading materials to your older children? Children love stories. Good selections can supply basic background, provide role models for appropriate action, and prove to be a source of inspiration. Numerous children's Bibles and Bible histories are available. Similarly, numerous short booklets dealing with the lives of the saints are also available. Check at your religious goods store for suitable audio and video tapes as well.
Do you, by word and example, attempt to instill in your children a spirit of generosity? Even the youngest of children can be taught the virtue of generosity, the fundamental ingredient of self-sacrifice. Significant inroads can be made in getting even young children to consider tithing, church service, and religious vocations. Many adults who aspire to the priesthood or religious life do so as a result of seeds planted early in childhood.
Do you take notice of the good that your children do? Catch your children being good. Praise them for little acts of kindness and generosity. Emphasize even small improvements in virtue rather than always pointing out failures. Do not continually chastise your little ones lest they lose heart. Be positive.
Do you make regular use of sacramentals? Crucifixes, holy water, statues, holy cards, scapulars, religious paintings, and medals (to name a few) can help provide a stimulating atmosphere for your children's spiritual development. Don't forget your church as a source of inspiration. Stained glass windows, the Stations of the Cross, and symbols of the faith enrich each parish church. Set aside some time following Mass or take time on a Sunday afternoon to look at these things and share them with your children. Such practices can leave indelible impressions on the minds of the young.
Do you set aside at least one day a week for the family? The hustle and bustle of daily life can serve to keep the family apart. The next time you sit down to supper, look to see if everyone is there. Set one day a week aside as "family day." Use Sunday as an opportunity to make a holy hour of reparation, go on a pilgrimage, perform some pious act of devotion, or just share time together.
Do you give thought to establishing or carrying on family traditions? Tradition - ritual and celebration - enlivens the faith of the family. First Communion and Confirmation are especially significant events in the lives of children and should he celebrated as such. Annual pilgrimages, special devotions, and Passover seder meals provide the stuff of vivid memories for children. Studies show that older children and young adults who lack an early emotional attachment to the faith will often break free from its practice as soon as opportunity permits.
Do you take the time to consider your children's spiritual and moral progress? No one can imagine successfully sailing a ship without a map, a compass, and a rudder. How then can anyone expect a soul to successfully navigate the sea of life without a spiritual map, a moral compass, and religious guidance? Children without this assistance will almost certainly make a shipwreck of their faith. Confusion and doubt are the hallmarks of youth. Parents can go a long way in alleviating these problems by reflecting on the spiritual development of their children and providing the safe harbor of moral certainty through appropriate and timely guidance.
Do you provide basic religious education and attempt to instill the virtues of faith, hope, and charity in your children? At least one study has shown that the vast majority of faith commitments are made before children reach their teens. (Today's Teens: A Generation in Transition, a Barna Report,1990, pp. 37-38) It is in this time of life that evangelization will have its greatest effect. One study shows that the majority of spirit-filled teens credit their parents with being the greatest influence for good in their lives. Parents are four times more effective than clergy, and ten times more effective than teachers, in instilling a sense of religious duty. Despite the best efforts of the Church, there clearly is no substitute for a solid religious upbringing in the home. At a minimum, consider spending a few minutes after the evening meal giving religious instruction or discussing a New Testament reading. Get involved in your children's formal religious training.
Do you make regular use of the sacraments? Sacraments open the flood gates of God's graces, and without these graces no parent or child can live a holy life. Attend Mass as a family on Sundays and Holy Days. Get in the habit of setting aside at least one Saturday a month for the family's reception of the sacrament of Penance.
Do you take time to nurture the possibility of religious vocations? Vocations to the diocesan priesthood and religious life don't just happen. Generally, vocations result from proper spiritual formation and gentle guidance. Some of the most important factors in religious vocations are a holy family life and supportive family members. Consider participating in the rites of Benediction, the Stations of the Cross, 40 Hours Devotion, or the Easter Vigil Mass as a means of instilling a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ.
Do you consciously attempt to instill a sense of social responsibility? The concept of stewardship can be driven home by something as simple as recycling. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are an excellent source of activities that can help children grow both spiritually and socially. Enlist their aid as you volunteer at a food pantry, soup kitchen, or parish school. Add an element of heroism by taking a pro-active, pro-life stance in your community. Such efforts can be very powerful on impressionable children.
Do you allow your children to make age-appropriate decisions and to live with the consequences? Some day children will grow into adults. When that time arrives, they must know how to make responsible decisions on their own. In the meantime, children must be guided into making appropriate decisions. Decisions are the basis of action and actions often have unforeseen consequences. There is no better way to train children how to make appropriate decisions than by allowing children to live with the consequences of their actions. Children must learn that actions have consequences. Parents who continually shelter their children from the consequences of their actions give them a false sense of life and of justice.
Do you provide good examples to counter materialism? Our thoughts, words, and deeds should be "other-worldly." This world is passing away and a parent's life should reflect a proper detachment from worldly things. New cars, big houses, dual incomes - what is the value of all this in the divine scheme of things? God should be the focus of our lives, not ourselves. Since children are born imitators, parents must be imitators of God.
Do you take time to educate your children in chastity? Today's unbridled exaltation of sex can result in serious physical and moral crises for even the very young. Parents must take a preemptive strike at the promotion of licentious self-indulgence and the confusion regarding what Christians must believe. Parents must not remain indifferent to this confusion. They must speak out clearly on sexual matters. It must be made clear that those who deny objective morality are wrong. Morality is not an expression of a particular culture at a certain moment in time. Rather, moral law is eternal, objective, and universal. Parents must provide appropriate sex education to their children with due regard to their age. Premarital chastity must be promoted as a positive virtue. Parents must work assiduously to form their children's wills in accordance with objective moral standards, and protect them from the dangers of which they are unaware.
Do you show loving discipline? Obedience, truthfulness, duty, honor, and integrity are all virtues that can and should be instilled in children at this age. Discipline plays an important role in instilling these virtues. In order for discipline to be credible, parents must be very clear in setting limits. Household rules should be firmly, fairly, and consistently applied. The point should be made that rules are a sign of love; they are not the arbitrary and capricious dictates of domineering parents. Parents establish rules to protect their children. As children learn to reason they will ask - even demand - to know the reason for a particular rule. If this should be the case, parents ought to be able and willing to explain the basis for the rule.
Do you take time to nurture relationships with your children? As children mature, they become more and more independent. Parents and children often find themselves growing apart during the preteen years. This doesn't have to happen. Take all the time you need to maintain strong relationships with your children. Relationships should be based upon love and mutual respect.
Do you consciously attempt to instill a spirit of self sacrifice in your teens? If there were only one or two statements to epitomize the life of a Christian, they might be, "Pick up your cross and follow me" and perhaps, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Left undirected, very few teens will develop any philosophy of life other than personal satisfaction and fulfillment through tangible rewards. Parents can provide a living counterexample of what it means to be truly Christian.
Do you provide your teens with good examples? Actions speak louder than words, and teens have an acute sense of hypocrisy. Never tell your teen to do one thing while you do another. Be a good role model: attend Mass regularly, arrive early, never leave early, dress respectfully, receive the sacraments, be respectful of your priests, live the teachings of the Church. Openly express your regard for the authority of the Church as a guide to proper decision making. Giving to God a portion of your time, talents, and treasure can teach a teen more than all the lectures in the world. Acts of kindness and appreciation can go a long way into instilling these attributes in your teens.
Do you often reflect on the spiritual character of your teens? Parents should be concerned with their teens from the standpoint of religious character. Teens should exhibit a sense of moral responsibility, the virtues of chastity and modesty, and a spirit of self sacrifice. Some teens are ready to seriously consider a commitment to a religious vocation at this age, but all too frequently do not receive the call. Make certain that a son who aspires to the priesthood finds out about Emmaus Days. Make certain that a daughter who is considering the sisterhood be given the opportunity to examine this way of life, too. Provide plenty of opportunities for reflection. Don't forget the value of religious retreats in discernment.
Do you stress the role of a properly formed conscience in decision making? Conscience is more than just an inner feeling, and decisions must be based upon more than the hedonistic standard, "If it feels good, do it." The word "conscience" comes from two Latin words, "cum" (with) and "scientia" (knowledge). An individual's conscience must be educated in conformity with divine revelation as authoritatively interpreted by the Church. The conscience does not create truth - it discerns truth. The conscience judges the morality of individual acts, but it is not interchangeable with the precepts of moral law. These points must be stressed repeatedly with teens.
Do you stress the importance of knowing and living the faith and the need for continuing spiritual growth? Unless a teen is enrolled in a parochial high school, chances are that the spiritual dimension of a teen's academic training will shrink, if not disappear altogether. Extra-curricular school activities, jobs, and social events compete all too successfully with ongoing parish religious education programs such as CCD. Many parents become lax in seeing that their teens continue to take religious instruction after receiving the sacrament of Confirmation. Teens simply cannot be expected to live all the demands of an adult Christian life with only a grade school religious education. At the very minimum a teen must be expected to continue with spiritual readings. The Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are excellent starting points.
Do you provide your teens with clear guidelines regarding sexual ethics - telling them what is moral and immoral? Personal health and sexuality are seen as pressing teen issues. Teens want and need to know the limits of appropriate action. Take the time to establish and explain rules about dating and pre-marital sex. Get to know and understand the teachings of the Church for your own sake. Live in conformity with these authoritative teachings. Dissent, particularly in the area of sexual ethics, could easily sound the death knell for your children's spirituality. It will pay dividends to be bold with your teens saying, "Don't do this." Equip teens with how to say NO to temptation.
Do you take time to really listen to your teens? Communication is a two-way street. Discussions between parents and teens at times can be exceedingly stressful. Under such circumstances "combatants" tend to talk past one another, hearing only what they want or expect to hear. Constant criticism can tear a relationship apart. Parents cannot expect to positively influence their teens if they cannot communicate with them. You were once a teen yourself. Make use of your experiences to talk about your attempts, successes, and failings at that age.
Do you provide the guidance that all teens both want and need? Many teens identify purpose of life as one of the biggest questions they must contend with. When asked, many teens (and many adults) cannot explain the purpose of life. The Baltimore Catechism explains it well. "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to he happy with Him forever in heaven." Teens are very interested in things that directly relate to them: making decisions about a life partner, career, school, discerning and doing God's will, and finding their function in the Church. Each topic can provide the basis of a serious, fruitful discussion.
Do you spend time with your teens? Several studies have shown that the more time parents spend with a child, the more influence they have. (Today's Teens: A Generation in Transition, a Barna Report, 1990, pp. 51-52; A synthesis by Johnson Co. of 18 studies relating to youth values. Reported by Josh McDowell Research Institute.) The old argument of "quality time" is little more than a cop-out used by some parents who are unwilling to sacrifice their desires and pleasures for the sake of personal relationships with their children. The fact of the matter is, the average father spends 40 minutes per week communicating with his teens; mothers average 55 minutes. This is hardly enough to offset the negative influences teens encounter through peers, other adults, and the media. Teens are often concerned about their ability to "fit in." Anxieties about personal rejection, peer pressure, materialism, and estrangement are at work in the lives of teens and can provide the basis for discussion. Going fishing, working on a project, going out to dinner, or camping out can provide time for renewing friendships and having those heart-to-heart talks. These opportunities provide a chance to instill a sense of self-confidence. Show your concern; your relationship with your teens will grow.
About Young Adults
Young adults - those between the ages of 18 and 23 - often lose their faith. Why is this so? Studies show that an inadequate job is done in preparing them as children for their lives as adults. (Today's Teens, op. cit., p. 54) They did not possess a strong understanding of the faith or its significance as children and they don't have it as adults
Once young adults encounter and explore self-centered life styles, they find hedonism all too appealing and the self-denial of Christianity quite unappealing. To millions of young adults God is unreal, spirituality is a mind game, church is not relevant, religion is tolerable, but certainly not helpful. If you want to keep your children Catholic, then you must work to establish within your children a spiritual relationship with God that can lead to changed hearts and lifestyles.
A Closing Word
If children are to grow and persevere in the faith as adults, they must be properly instructed in their faith as part of an on-going process. In order to do this, parents must know and nurture their own faith. Parents simply cannot share what they don't have. Read an adult catechism, subscribe to religious periodicals, and study Vatican documents.
Furthermore, parents must live their faith. Nothing can be more deleterious to the spiritual growth of a child than to see parents who do not practice the faith they preach. Moreover, parents must share their faith by word and deed. A parent might be faith-filled, but unless the light of this faith shines forth, it will be of little help in raising holy children.
Last, but certainly not least, parents must pray. Parents cannot hope to succeed in the mission of raising up a holy family without the help of Christ. For without Him we can do nothing.
A Preliminary List
Catholic parents are often eager to share the faith with their children, but often don't know where to begin. Many do not have a firm foundation in the faith themselves and need to know where to turn. What follows is a partial listing of the hundreds of books, tapes, and videos that are available to Catholic parents for use in learning the faith and passing it on to their children. Many of these items are available through the Family Resources Center in Peoria, and can be ordered directly or purchased wherever Catholic books are sold. Additionally, free catalogs may be obtained by writing or calling the distributors/publishers listed below. Please notify the Office of Family Life if you have other suggestions for this list.
Booklets and Tapes
Family Resources Center
321 Main St., Peoria, IL 61602
St. Paul Books & Media
50 St. Paul's Ave., Boston, MA 02130
Familiaris Consortio - The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World. Apostolic Exhortation by Pope John Paul II.
Stories about saints for children ages 9-14: The Fisher Prince - St. Peter the Apostle; More Than A Knight-St. Maximillian Kolbe; Came The Dawn - Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
TAN Books and Publishers, Inc.
P.O. Box 424, Rockford, IL 6ll05
Great Catholic Books for Children and for all Young People ages 10-100: The Children of Fatima; The Little Flower- Story of St. Therese of the Child Jesus; Patron Saint of First Communicants - Blessed Imelda Lambertini. Books were written by Mary Fabyan Windeatt. There are 12 titles altogether. Very enjoyable for the entire family.
33 Oakland Ave., Harrison, NY 10528
Lives of the saints for young people ages 9-15 : Kateri Tekakwitha- Mohawk Maiden; Saint Isaac and the Indians; St. John Bosco and Dominic Savio. (Six books are available in the above series.)
Hanna-Barbera's Stories from the Bible: Bernadette -Princess of Lourdes; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A great variety of excellent videos for family entertainment.
St. Joseph Communications, Inc.
PO Box 720, West Covina, CA 91793
Scott Hahn tape series: Answering Common Objection to Catholic Faith; Becoming A Catholic Family; Life Giving Love. Steve Wood tape: Marriage Covenant and Our Covenent with God. Tape by Father George Rutler, This is Our Faith.
St. Joseph's has a variety of audio and video tapes to aid parents in teaching the faith.
Our Sunday Visitor
200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750
Catholic Traditions in Cooking, Ann Ball- Conveniently arranged by liturgical seasons.
Raising Catholic Children, Mary Ann Kuharski.
The Leaflet Missal Company
976 W. Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul MN 55104
The Catholic Famlly in the Modern World, John A. Hardon, S.J.
The True Meaning of Love, the beauty and wisdom of the Church's teaching; A Contemporary Adult Guide to Conscience, for the sacrament of confession; No, no,! It Is A Sin !, A message to young adults of today. About the life of St. Maria Goretti, patroness of youth. The above are by Richard J. Rego, S.T.L.
The Wonder of Human Sexuality, Richard M. Hogan
All of the above are short, easy-to-read booklets.
Box 106, Combermere, Ontario, KOJ 1L0 CANADA
Nazareth Journal- a wonderful quarterly journal focusing on Catholic family life.
Our Sunday Visitor
200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750
Catholic Parent- an informative magazine for Catholic parents.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
St. Paul Books & Media,
50 St. Paul's Ave., Boston, MA 02130, 1-800-876-4463
Character Building- a Guide for Parents and Teachers, by David Isaacs
Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland
Keeping Your Kids Catholic
Bert Ghezzi, Ed., Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, MI
Catholic Source Book, (a collection of prayers and information to help learn, renew, teach, and live the risen life of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church), Rev. Peter Klein, Ed., Brown Publishing, ROA Media, Dubuque,IA
The Rosary in the Home, by Wal Maggs. St. Paul Publications, Society of St. Paul
Counsel for Catholic Parents (a short booklet of 50 practical and easy devotions and traditions for the Catholic family) Rev. Brett A. Brannen, AMI Press, Washington, NJ
Enriching Faith through Family Celebrations, by Sandra DeGidio, Twenty-Third Publications, P.O. Box 180, Mystic, CT 06355
St. Joseph Picture Books, (64 different illustrated books for children.) Picture Book of Saints, New Catholic Picture Bible, all of the above by Father Lovasik, S.V.D. Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, NY
Leading the Little Ones to Mary, by Sister Mary Lelia, S.S.N.D. Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, NY 11706-8993
The Catholic Mothers Helper, by Sister Mary, I.H.M., Sister Mary Roberta, O.P. and Sister Mary Rosary, O.P. Our Lady of the Rosary School, 904 W. Stephen Foster Ave., Bardstown, KY 40004
Challenging Children to Chastity- A Parental Guide, by H. Vernon Sattler, C.SS.R. Catholic Central Verein of America, 3835 Westminster Pl., St. Louis, MO 63108-3472
The Courage to Be Chaste, by Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ 07430
Chastity- A Guide for Teen and Young Adults, by Gerald Kelly, S.J. Roman Catholic Books, P.O. Box 255, Harrison, NY 10528