By Fr. Hien Nguyen
Ritual and tradition are also important to the education of faith and these can be long lasting memories that the member of families continue to treasure and celebrate for years to come and even from one generation to the next. As already mentioned, the family can get together to celebrate the Feast Day of the Patron Saint of the family members with Mass, a meal, a cake, etc. just to highlight the day. It is also important to participate in the liturgical celebration of the Church such as making the Advent Wreath together with the four candles and light them according to each week during prayer time in anticipating for the coming of the Lord, and follow by the putting up and decorating the Christmas tree and the Manger. To celebrate the saints on All Saints day and the day of the Faithful departed by taking the family to visit the cemetery and pray for the dead (loved ones). During Lent, the family can participate in the stations of the cross together and to emphasis on the self-denial element. All these are beautiful practices that help the family members to live the faith and to hand on the traditions of the Church and the family.
One of the common complaints from parents is that their children do not want to go to Church anymore. They find it “boring” and an obligation. They rather go shopping, or to a theatre, a concert, a hockey game, etc. It is crucial for parents to help them understand the meaning of the Eucharist, that when they go to Mass, they participate in the sacrificial love that Christ has done for us. Their going is an act of love and thanksgiving to all the blessings God has blessed them. When a family makes this a priority family activity on Sunday, to pick a time and go together, it will encourage the young to come for worship with the parish community and the universal Church. There are also events in the parish community where there is Eucharistic Adoration that the family can also participate and expose the children to acquire the taste of the bliss of heaven here on earth. The sacraments must be the key and backbone of the family life that accentuate by each of the member going through the process of receiving the sacraments such as Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, Ordination, etc. The family members can cherish these highlighted celebrations for generations through pictures and stories that shared.
When I think of what has helped me in my growing up years to know God better and to deepen my faith, I would say that they are the examples of my parents. I remember how every evening they gathered us together and led us into prayer. Every Sunday, I was looking forward to go to Mass together and on our way home having a treat at the bakery store. They were beautiful, peak moments of living out the faith. There is no better teaching method than examples from parents. As we have discussed on this issue in the first chapter by the survey done by the UNC, how parents’ influence at home becomes crucial to the faith practice of their children. Another study in Switzerland reaffirmed this point:
If both parents attended church regularly, 33 percent of their children would end up as regular churchgoers and 41 percent would attend irregularly. Only a quarter will not practice at all. Perhaps most important was the finding that if the mother practices and the father does not, only 2 percent of the children will become regular worshippers, while 37 percent will practice irregularly. But 60 percent will be lost to the church.
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