Monday, September 6, 2010

Forming your children in faith

Tony Danza of television fame is starring in a reality show where is he testing out his teaching skills. In the September 3, 2010 issue of PARADE, he is quoted as saying: “As a teacher, you’re supposed to “model” things for the kids—show them the ways that education matters in the world.”

When I read this, I translated it in light of my own work in catechesis, and it makes perfect sense. For those of us who attempt to pass on the faith to children in religious education programs, we understand the idea of being a model for children, but that last part is worthy of further reflection . . .

You see, one of the keys to helping children catch on to faith is the ability to show them how it matters. How it matters to them, and to the world.

Too often adolescent children do not see how belief in an unseen God, prayer and the practice of going to church, is significant. As applied to them personally, it is somewhat understandable in that they typically have not had enough life experiences through which to discover God. Of course, that’s not true for all children, but generally speaking.

The second part—how education matters to the world—and its Christian parallel—how religious education matters to the world, is interesting to consider.

If we take for granted the formation of our children in religious matters, and we do not seek instruction for them, nor practice faith in our home, how can we expect the Gospel to spread?

Forming children in the practice of faith can influence, and alter, really, the lives of generations of people—and society overall—as we strive for peace, morality, and the common good. Forming our children in the faith—teaching them about the Gospel and the salvation that we have through Jesus Christ—brings hope. It is life-giving, not only for us, but for others as well, who may be introduced to it through us.

Stir into flame the Gospel of love in your children. Help them see its relevance—or seek it for yourself—if it is unfamiliar to you.

Do not trust the world to offer faith to your children someday, for it may never happen. They need you to talk to them about God. Take them to church and see that they discover what worship is like within a community. Give them the opportunity to learn from the greatest model of all—Jesus himself.