A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘children

We’re fortunate to worship with everyone from babies to seniors, but the children seemed to be front and centre during and after Mass yesterday—newly baptized babies, a toddler recently adopted into a parish family, children attending Mass in preparation for First Eucharist, teens talking about youth ministry activities and confirmation classes. Fitting, as we were celebrating the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord.

I have to admit I was a bit distracted during Mass by the sound of an infant crying in the parish hall and a toddler who kept saying “Mama!” to get her mother’s attention.

Sometimes it’s all too easy to focus on the noise—joyful or not—that children may bring to Mass and not on the fact that they are the future of the Church. That families need to feel welcome. That we have the awesome responsibility to raise children in the faith and be part of a supportive worship community for other people’s children and grandchildren.

So how can we support the faith journeys of children and youth? How can we make them feel included in the life of the parish?

  • Provide Christian board books or colouring pages for little ones (to help their parents enjoy Mass a little more).
  • Encourage young children to help with the closing worship song by shaking maracas or tambourines.
  • Organize family activities such as a movie night or coffee hour after Mass so children and their families can get to know one another.
  • Be a “prayer angel” for someone preparing for First Eucharist or confirmation.
  • Assist with the children’s liturgy, youth ministry or sacramental preparation by teaching and helping with crafts or contributing to snacks and setup.
  • Attend Masses where First Eucharist and confirmation are celebrated and stop by the reception afterward to show children and youth they are a welcome part of the parish.
  • Let the youth take over the church one Sunday by serving as greeters and lectors, collecting the offering, bringing up the gifts and participating in the music ministry.
  • Encourage older youth to assist the Catholic Women’s League or Knights of Columbus in making parish events (such as a yard sale, barbecue or charitable fundraiser) run smoothly.

I pray that we would see the presence of children and youth at Mass and parish events as a blessing and be guided by these words from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI:

The love, loyalty, and dedication of Mary and Joseph are an example for all Christian couples, who are neither the friends nor masters of their children’s lives, but the guardians of this incomparable gift from God.

~ quoted in “Celebrate February 2014,” Catholic Digest, January/February 2014

The province of Ontario marks Family Day today. A holiday created because…well, probably because there was no holiday this month. Family Day is supposed to bring families together.

One day is not going to cut it.

Despite our culture’s debate about the value of “quality time,” my experiences as a parent tell me the quantity of time we spend with our kids is underrated. Study after study shows that kids are more likely to thrive if they have a good relationship with their parents. And relationships take time.

The Catechism has a lot to say about families, including the following:

The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society. (s. 2207)

Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God. (s. 2226)

Thinking about my childhood, it’s not just special occasions that come to mind; it’s things like sitting down to meals together, shopping with my mom for back-to-school clothes, and getting help from my dad with geometry. The time my parents spent with me gave them the chance to share their values and beliefs with me and teach me important life skills.

If we reserve family time for a special day, opportunities to teach our kids values, share our faith with them, guide them in discovering their vocation, and prepare them for life on their own will pass us by.

We can keep our families strong by regularly spending time doing everyday things together. And family time doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Here are some examples from our house. Read the rest of this entry »

On Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. As a mother, my thoughts go to my son’s baptism in July 2000, when he joined the Body of Christ at the tender age of three months.

Wearing a christening cap and gown my mother made from my grandmother’s wedding dress and embroidered with his initials, my son slept through most of the service. He stirred only when the minister anointed him with holy water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

For several years my son didn’t come to church—he didn’t want to be left in the nursery and wouldn’t sit quietly without kicking (yes, kicking) the pew ahead of us—but we talked about God and read him Bible stories. When he was in kindergarten, he started attending Sunday school. Faith in God has always been part of his life.

Fast forward to 2011, when we began attending a Catholic church. I made sure my son had and knew how to use some “standard equipment”: a Catholic edition of the Bible, a rosary and, more recently, a copy of the YOUCAT. He wanted a prayer corner in his room so, among other things, we’ve added a cross with Philippians 4:13 printed on it.

Of course one challenge is getting him to fully participate in the Mass. Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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