July 15, 2024

Last month, we learned how foundational it is to know why we are here and why we choose to be Catholic in a culture of competing worldviews. The logical question for us now is: If we understand why we are here and what we are about, how should we live? Let’s consider this question in the context of our home life.

If someone were to walk into our home today, would they see evidence of your Catholic faith? Moreover, if someone were to listen in on our daily conversations with our children and grandchildren, would they hear evidence of our Catholic faith? Sure, relationships can be strained occasionally, but that’s a given when you are learning to love; but what is the overall atmosphere in our homes?

When we pray, “Thy kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven,” we must remember that it begins in the home—as the home goes, so goes the country. Our Catholic faith places a high value on sacramental living, so let’s consider how to fill our homes with tangible evidence of our belief in God.

A humble abode

“Life lived according to God’s way, lived under the banner of love, teaches us and others through a humbling sort of beauty” (from the book “Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday” by Carrie Gress and Noelle Mering).

It is a sad fact that the pell-mell pace of modern life takes us away from home rather than to it. What can we do to shift back to home-centric family life? Observing the Sabbath with the grace and reverence God desires is a good starting place.

What can we do to make Sunday feel different for our family? How we begin the day sets the tone for the Sabbath rest that awaits us. The priority of worship of the Mass is a given, but what can we do in the hours before we leave for Mass? Simply saying with joyful anticipation to our children that we get to honor the Lord by worshiping him with other believers sets the tone for the day.

Planning a special meal to prepare together can foster excitement for the day. It may be as easy as a brunch for lunch or as adventurous as a new ethnic recipe; it doesn’t matter other than it is different from the rest of the week. Eating at a table together set in a unique-to-Sunday style (a candle that’s lit or a small statue of the Holy Family) draws attention to our Catholic faith.

A special table blessing is reasonable to say together at every meal, but you may want to add a question after the blessing to begin a conversation. Do an internet search for “family dinner conversation,” and you’ll have many questions to ask. The goal of the conversation is to unite our family with the Lord’s desire to bless us. Count on it! He will!

Heavenly Father, Giver of all good things,
In a world where so many are hungry,
May we eat this food with humble hearts;
In a world where so many are lonely,
May we share this friendship with joyful hearts. Amen.

From here to eternity

Lois Heron is a parishioner at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Sioux Falls. She is a retired educator and a writer.

Our vocation is to orient our family life toward eternity. Moses instructed the people of God on how to do just that: “Bind them (the precepts of God’s desire for his beloved) as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Dt 6:7-9).

In “Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family,” Maria Von Trapp wrote, “The family that prays together—if you spend the first 10 years with your children, they will spend the next 10 years with you.” God’s instruction to the Jews relied on the determination of fathers and mothers to act on their faith in God. The instruction hasn’t changed; action is still required!

Are we present to our family? Prioritizing our lives around the family would seem obvious, but we live in a culture that messages otherwise. Uniting our family with the Lord’s blessing goes beyond preferring our family’s company over the interruptions of a cell phone and social media.

Where in our days can we shelter our family from outside influences? A time when they know they have our undivided attention?

Consider scheduling a reading aloud together as your shelter time; it will reap remarkable developmental benefits. More importantly, just think about what it will do when we combine it with books that teach biblical values, truth and virtue! Google “storybooks on Christian virtue” to discover age-appropriate resources for your home library. “The Children’s Book of Virtues” by William J. Bennett is a go-to anthology of read-aloud stories for children of all ages.