Families share how they make their homes reflect their faith

| September 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

The World Meeting of Families will be held for the first time in the U.S. in Philadelphia Sept. 22-25 with the aim of strengthening families in America and across the globe. Under the theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive,” the four-day “congress” intends to deepen the Church’s understanding of the family and its challenges, and provide tools to build up what “Lumen Gentium” — a principal document of the Second Vatican Council — calls “the domestic Church.” Throughout the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Catholic families are making daily efforts to build their own domestic Churches through prayer, charity and intentional living. The Catholic Spirit invited local Catholics to share their efforts to make their homes Catholic homes. The following are in their own words.

Making the saints ‘friends in heaven’

To make our home a Catholic home, we include the saints in our everyday lives. We read regularly to our children from a kids’ books of saints. Several months ago, Sara and other Catholic moms in the area participated in a saint peg doll exchange. Now our children have 50 different saints they can learn about and play with each day. We also celebrate the feast days of saints who are important to our family with special activities and treats.

Since we live within a few miles of the Cathedral of St. Paul, it’s really easy to bring the kids there on a rainy day and visit the Shrine of the Nations. We always light a candle at the St. Boniface and St. John the Baptist altars, because our family is of mixed German and French-Canadian descent. Making the saints, our friends in heaven, part of our everyday conversation and activities ensures that our children have holy role models to look up to.

John and Sara Rogers

Four children, ages 16 months, 3, 5; St. Joseph, West St. Paul

Bookending the day with prayer

My husband and I try to carry out God’s will in our ordinary daily life, and we try to lead our children to do the same; we work at remembering at every moment that God is our loving Father. To that end, every morning when the alarm clock goes off, we get down on our knees and offer everything to him, and every evening we get back on our knees and ask him to forgive us for all the ways that we have fallen short. Our morning offering and our nightly examination of conscience help us to live a Catholic life in all the moments in between.

Dia and John Boyle

Three children, ages 15-26; Nativity of Our Lord, St. Paul

Putting God first with four basic rules

When our kids ranged from newborn to the college-age, we faced daily schedules juggling school programs, sports, music, paper routes, part-time jobs and more. But we learned early on that if we put God first, nothing would be overwhelming. Our basic rules were:

  • Attend Sunday Mass as a family whenever possible. Our children need to see us in prayer.
  • Pray together before every meal and bedtime.
  • Pray the rosary daily — even if only one decade. Miracles will follow! Trust the Blessed Mother.
  • Tell your kids often, “Our No. 1 goal for YOU is happiness for all eternity and that is only possible in heaven” (which means you may not always get your way here on earth!).

Mary Ann and John Kuharski

13 children, ages 26-46; St. Charles Borromeo, St. Anthony

Creating simple daily traditions

The Nicklaus family plays, prays and celebrates most everything! We play Mass with a child-sized Mass kit and vestments made from round tablecloths matching liturgical colors. Meals begin with different prayers and there is a rosary on the ride to church. Name saint feast days as well as baptismal and confirmation anniversaries are met with the simple, memorable tradition of the red plate at dinner and a treat or gift.

On a child’s baptismal day, we light their candle, remembering the questions of the Church, such as, “What name do you give this child?” We pray over the child and recall how God is working in that child’s life. Simple, daily traditions help us grow in knowledge of our faith as we party with the saints!

Anne and Alan Nicklaus

Five children, ages 7-17; Our Lady of Peace, Minneapolis

Feasting on feast days

One of our family’s Catholic traditions is celebrating the feast days of our patron saints. These feast days are written on our family calendar, just like birthdays and anniversaries.

How we celebrate the feast days varies from year to year. Often, the festivities include a special meal or dessert. For example, one of my daughters is Lucia, so on the Feast of St. Lucy, we enjoy cinnamon rolls for breakfast.

When our children were younger, we learned the saints’ stories, and over the years our collection of saint books, statues and holy cards has grown. Through this tradition, we hope that our children always know they are part of God’s family and have a communion of saints interceding for them every day.

Sarah and Greg Damm

Six children, ages 4-12; Transfiguration, Oakdale

Committing to family night prayer

Our night prayers are the most important thing we do in our home to integrate the faith into our lives. We examine our day, apologize for wrongs and give thanks for one thing. Then we pray The Confiteor, The Guardian Angel prayer, and close with the following aspiration:

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I die in peace, and in your blessed company.”

Consequently, we are more aware of our daily struggles, humbly acknowledge those struggles before each other, and are grateful for the good while asking the holy family and our angels to be with us through the night.

Kristen and James Lang

Five children, ages 3 weeks to 8 years; St. Michael, St. Michael

Embracing mission, prayer and silence

As our kids are getting older, we felt like it would be important to anchor our family with a common mission statement. We talked about how we aspire to live out our lives as a Catholic family and articulated that into a basic mission statement. We have it displayed in our home and hope to incorporate it in our relationships and actions. It’s something we can speak about as we strive to treat others with love, and to do our best to live our lives for God.

Since it’s nearly impossible to get a toddler to say a full prayer, we decided to come up with a simple family prayer that we could all say together. We use the prayer at the end of Mass, traveling in the car, or at the end of our dinner. Our prayer is this: “We love you Jesus, please help us be happy saints.” It’s a simple, straightforward reminder (for both adults and children) that our goal is to help one another get to heaven. It also reminds us that prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, just genuine.

We’ve also made a conscientious effort in our home to embrace the silence that occasionally falls upon our home. Granted, with small kids it is never quiet for very long, but our hope is to remove the noise of the television and radio in order to teach our family how to embrace the silence, rather than avoid it. While it never lasts long, it seems to help quiet everyone’s hearts and minds before the next exciting adventure begins.

Greg and Kate Aitchison

Two children, ages 2 and 5; Our Lady of Grace, Edina

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Category: Faith and Culture