My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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The learning experience of Holy Week

This wonderful pastoral letter from the diocese of Newark gave me a lot of food for thought as we enter into Holy Week. Regardless of how the previous weeks of Lent has gone, this is the final act, the grand finale, the climax that can make those nerve endings in those little minds connect with awe and wonder of Jesus Christ.

I think the entire article can work as an examination of conscience for parents as we look over how we are forming the faith of our children while we prepare for Easter.

Ages 2-7

Do you take the time to teach your children 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?

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

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

Do you take notice of the good that your children do? Catch your children being good.

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

I'm happy to report that I could answer yes to most of the above because I am able to work most of those points into our homeschooing lifestyle, particularly prayer time and bible study. Also because we are at home, I have many sacramentals around that the children can take advantage of regularly. Taking advantage of those unexpected teachable moments has also been easier for me while I have my children at home.
Ages 8-12

Do you set aside at least one day a week for the family?

We actually have been pretty good about that during Lent. With our change to a Saturday-only Soccer League and the end of the swimming era, I think that we will be even more successful with this.

Do you give thought to establishing or carrying on family traditions?
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.

I actually think and worry about this quite often. I hope that our little traditions throughout the Liturgical Year have drawn my children deeper into the beauty of their faith. I hope that this Easter, with most of my children either attending or participating in the Easter Vigil, that they are making those personal connections with our Catholic culture and traditions. Calvin seems to be pulling away lately to the typical teenage party and movie scene, but he is bringing his girlfriend to Easter Vigil, so perhaps I can hope that even for him, this has made a connection.

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 make regular use of the sacraments?

Do you take time to nurture the possibility of religious vocations?

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.

Below are some more excellent questions and reflections for older children and adult children. Be sure to read the entire link for the complete article.

Do you provide good examples to counter materialism?

Do you consciously attempt to instill a spirit of self sacrifice in your teens

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 Churc

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

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)

Do you provide your teens with clear guidelines regarding sexual ethics - telling them what is moral and immoral?

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.