Faith Formation is a Vital from Womb to Tomb
This past Wednesday evening, I was privileged to celebrate our kick-off Mass for faith formation. With Covid concerns resulting in so many cancellations, including throwing a monkey wrench into the end of religious education on site last spring, both Kayla Rooney and Scott Kieffer sprang into action to ensure opportunities for faith formation continued. Over the summer, there were youth events, a Vacation Bible School, and this fall both have been working tirelessly to prepare for faith formation on site. I am so thankful to both for all of their hard work, and to the army of volunteers working with them.
We all hope and pray that we will gradually see a return in coming months to more normalcy in all of our lives. But a big part of that should also include ongoing faith formation for us all.
Sometimes we see the sacraments as the signs of journeying through our Catholic faith; most of us celebrate first reconciliation and first communion in elementary school, then nearly a decade later are confirmed. The challenge though for us isn’t to see the celebration of the sacraments like a “graduation” but rather stepping stones for us on our way to sainthood.
The problem is we live in a very secular world, and practically speaking being we are also very busy, sometimes faith formation can get put on the back burner to school, sports, household busyness, etc. And let’s face it, both as an adult and child, if we’ve been at school or work all day, been busy after we get off, it can sometimes be hard to have energy going still at 6 or 7 p.m. at night. So how do we fan the flames of the Holy Spirit?
It starts at home. It’s important to remember the Church is there to help and assist parents, but faith formation is the primary role of parents. Develop a habit of prayer with the family, even if it’s just a few minutes at the end of the day. Make Mass a priority in your week. Talk about what happens at Mass with kids and why we go there. Consider books on the faith for children. Use the faith to explain to kids why we do some things and do not do others. Go to confession every so often as a family. When we combine these things, it helps children to see faith not just for Sunday morning or Wednesday evening at religious education class, but as a way of life.
How is faith in our own lives? That’s a key question to ask. For many of us it’s been years since we were in a faith formation class. But faith formation entails both coming to Mass, but also truly entering into the Mass, praying, and finding times for spiritual growth. There are a lot of good online resources too that are helpful especially as we work through the pandemic. Consider checking things out online for spiritual reading and videos; favorites of mine are the bishops website, which has daily readings, reflections and documents at usccb.org; Bishop Robert Barron’s “Word on Fire” ministry at wordonfire.org; “The Catholic Thing” a Catholic blog with articles on various topics thecatholicthing.org; the Eternal Word Television Network site, ewtn.com, which also has numerous apologetic articles; and the home page of Blackfriars, a Dominican Order from England and Scotland, which features short, but quality weekly homilies dating back 10 years at torch.op.org. Then there is the Vatican’s website too, vatican.va, where you’ll find the catechism, apostolic letters, info on saints, and all sorts of good stuff. Of course there are many mediocre sites out there too when you go looking that may have bad information or be misleading, so do some checking on the author and source.
We also think about the faith informing our lives. If we know the faith through prayer and study, we apply it to how we treat people we meet. As the saying goes, sometimes we are the only Bible people read, and especially for kids in the house, they learn so much when they see parents loving one another, making sacrifices for the family, saying both “I love you” and “I’m sorry” if they make a mistake and working hard.
Again, I think with respect to the faith it goes back to something I’ve heard Bishop Robert Barron speak of numerous times, namely the faith is not just one thing among many, but the enter of our lives. God is like the north star around which all the others rotate. So many things fill our lives, but just as I share with the kids at the start of a school year the objective isn’t to be the best video game player but to learn about the world, our faith, and to discover our vocations, the same is true for all of us – at the end of the day we don’t want to say to God we learned how to be a great golfer, a great busybody, or make a lot of money. A good job, financial security, hobbies we enjoy, these things matter. But nothing matters more than getting to heaven. Jesus has shown us the way there, may we use the virtue of faith given to us on our baptism and grow in it every day of our lives.
Have a blessed week,
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