The Australian bush turkey is a canny creature who goes to extreme lengths to find the perfect place for their nest. Then they lay the eggs and the young hatch to fend for themselves.
The parents create the perfect environment for their offspring but provide no actual guidance or protection to their young as they grow.
This is a continuation of this previous post.
Once again, these are not things I think we are even close to achieving, but rather seeking to gain a vision based not on hearsay but on the authentic teaching of the Church.
The following words in blue are excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
The duties of parents
2224 The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities.
We cannot rely on the culture to initiate our children. It will turn them into porn stars and selfish consumers quicker than we can blink. This is a great insult to our true human dignity. We are created for so much more than and it is in the home we can nurture this true dignity and help them go beyond the sad vision impairment of the culture.
This is the culture of discontent for the things that fail to truly satisfy as we wrote about here.
Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.
A wise friend once told me, “Children spell love T-I-M-E” but with the crazy pace of life how can ever have the time to do this one? Even homeschooling provides limited opportunities to really do this. Time as a family is constantly being attacked. Even from within the church. We have dubbed it the “Christian rat-race” and it can be just as damaging to the family as secular culture.
Ministries of parents who are constantly absent from the family dinner table is another bush-turkey-ism we avoid as much as possible.
2225 Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children.
What an awesome privilege. We have the trusting eyes of our children staring up at us, and we can give them that which is most precious to us.
Just be sure that what is truly most precious to you has been worked out. Make sure you are evangelizing the right thing to them. If it’s more about you than God, then this is the message they will get. Doesn’t matter what you say. The evangelising is happening and it will either be for God or against.
Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children.
This starts even before birth. Yes. As soon as a child is conceived the parents begin to initiate them. They hear your prayers from the womb. They know if you and your husband place your hands lovingly on your womb and pray for them each day. They are given a name which is the one God has chosen from all eternity. After all, these natural acts of loving are part of the great mystery of faith which God chose to come down amongst and reveal to us.
They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.(Lumen Gentium 11)
We tried to accommodate our children to the church initially by trying local parish liturgies that were very go-with-the-flow. Sort of like a mosh pit crossed with a social club atmosphere. We felt this was ok as we were one of the few families with children so everyone was super-happy to have someone without grey hair at mass. This was a mistake on our part. It was not until our son was approaching his First Holy Communion that we realised how the liturgy is catechetical and we had been simply heading him towards the New Religion.
We are now much more discerning about the sort of liturgies we attend as we realise how much evangelisation occurs just through the act of attending a reverent, beautiful liturgy.
A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.
Wholesome family life does prepare children to be able to see also what wholesome family life is not. It helps weave the faith into every aspect- not just mass attendance and about how expensive things are. Many of our best memories are from laughs around the dinner table after we have slowed down on our eating long enough to talk and listen to each other.
2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years.
Just in case we didn’t hear what the church was saying in the previous section, here it is again.
This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel.
“Family members” is not restricted to the nuclear family either. The witness of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins all have a huge impact on growing in the faith. Or not growing in the faith as the case may be. Some of our greatest struggles as parents have occurred through not having that faith supported by our wider family network.
I have a friend who has great fears of telling their extended family about their being pregnant as it is met with such disdain. After the first four children, the announcement of child number five was met with “Oh s**t!” from both supposedly good Catholic grandparents. Further pregnancies met with intimations of poor self control and vulgar references to the husband’s private parts. Very sad that even from the womb children can be loved or rejected. And not just by the parents.
But just what is the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel?
We like to think of it as living the will of God through the commandments to love : putting God first and serving others before yourself.
Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.(Lumen Gentium 11)
Teaching our children to pray is a mighty task but fortunately our Holy Mother the Church has left us with such fantastic tools to help them.
I get a bit cranky when I read advice for Catholic families suggesting things like “grace before meals” and prayers before bed and getting to Mass on Sundays. I feel like, “Whoa, that’s a low bar… We must be saints already!”
I get a sense of it coming out of the mistaken beliefs of the New Religion.
For us, this family catechesis involves Holy Mass more often than just Sundays, monthly First Saturday devotions with Mass & confession, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, novenas, pro life rosary processions, Divine Mercy chaplet & Rosary and living the liturgical year. So many wonderful and easy ways to incorporate this into our daily life. We don’t always get through the meaty end of the catechetical curriculums we use, and we have much to improve, but I am so grateful that God gives us the help we need in living a sacramental life.
The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.
Mmm… this is a difficult one we reflect on rather painfully as being to some extent spiritual refugees regarding this optimistic viewpoint. I guess the words “Eucharistic community” are a challenge to those parishes where the Eucharistic and real presence of Jesus is downplayed in favour of the New Religion view. We have had to search for a Eucharistic community where that amazing reality of God with Us through His own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is like a beating heart that we beat along with.
We had friends recently forced to pull their child out of a First Communion programme that had the children being formed in notions such as the feeding of the Five Thousand being like a “nice picnic on a hill” and the Last Supper being turned into a party with friends. It played down the real presence and made it about the party.
This is so much less than what our children are made for.
We long to be able to live this vision some day.