Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Monday, July 21, 2014

Solid Foundation in the Catholic Church

An essential part of setting the stage for a fruitful prayer life is a solid foundation in the Catholic Faith.


Here’s a quote from “Welcome to Carmel,” page 42.

“Teresa stresses that the essence of friendship [with God] is to make sure that our will is one with that of Christ.  Bringing our wills into conformity with the Will of Christ is the very essence of friendship.  Once again, she assures us that prayer is not a practice to make us feel good, to give us spiritual comfort and consolation.  But prayer is designed to make us draw closer to Christ, to bring our wills into conformity with His divine Will."

Prayer is our relationship with God.  The True God.  Not the ‘god’ we’re tempted to make in our mind.  We have to know how to discern God’s will in our lives.  The best way I have to offer on getting to know God is through His inspired Scripture and the 2000 years worth of tradition that comes to us through His Church.  Yes, scripture and tradition.

In some ways, the approach to building this solid foundation will be different, depending upon how a family to chooses to educate its children.

For homeschooling families, the parents are choosing the religious education texts.  As well, catechizing can and does occur in the other subjects.  For example, Catholic publishers will inject teaching into handwriting, grammar, or science lessons.  Additionally, secular books provide opportunity for religious education, as cultural bias is everywhere; it’s good to be able to take advantage of that bias as a teachable moment, so it can become a part of a lesson’s discussion.

Happily, parents of public school, private school, or parochial school students are also the primary formatters of their children’s Catholic education.  Some of the ways this is accomplished tie in with what I’ll be posting next week (Creating a Catholic Culture in Your Home).  In short, parents who don’t homeschool still read to their children, books of both religious and secular nature.  These parents will have conversations about right and wrong, conversations about why certain movies are not good viewing, conversations about current events.

Obviously, here I stray into territory that must be covered by all parents.  Regardless of how the children are schooled, the parents are integral in passing along the teachings of the Catholic Church.  The day-to-day events of life on this earth are the springboard to endless lessons and discussion.  Aside from the issue of “solid foundation = greater prayer life,” I believe, firmly, that “solid foundation = better world.”  I am convinced that a big part of the problem that exists in the divide between American Catholics and their approach to the issues of the day is a result of poor catechesis.  Recall this quote form Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

“There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church.  There are millions who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—which is, of course, quite a different thing.”

Some of the more vitriolic rhetoric I’ve seen written about the Church comes from an utter ignorance of Church teaching.  We owe it to our children to provide them with a solid foundation in the Faith.  Why does the Church teach what it does about marriage?  Why does the Church say contraception is wrong?  What can a Catholic do about  . . . . . In what could become an entire series unto itself, I can argue the validity of many of the Church’s stances on the contentious issues of the day from a purely scientific, values-free, even atheistic/Darwinistic point of view.  Don’t be afraid of Church teaching.  Truth is on our side, which means common sense and logic are on our side, as well!

2225 Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. 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. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. 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.

2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. 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 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. 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.

It is the duty of parents to provide a solid foundation in Catholic Church teachings.  Notice in the first paragraph how parents should start ‘em young; parents “can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith . . .” Nothing I write here about children and prayer is original.  I’m merely collecting quotes from various sources and putting it in one place.  Everything we have to offer children on the faith will help direct their interior life towards God.

When I have finished the project of this preliminary information about the spiritual formation of children, I will devote a section dedicated to providing links to excellent resources.  In the meantime, here is a list of solid Catholic resources.

List of links for adults:
Catechism of the Catholic Church – the entire thing, online
Encyclicals – online here or here, searchable by pope
Catholicism - Fr. Barron's video series.  I cannot recommend it highly enough!
Catholic Classics Reading List – fabulous list of excellent works; books that educate about the faith and contribute towards building a Catholic culture
Ignatius Press – quality books, films, music
EWTN - searchable

List of links for kids and/or teens
Amy Welborn – many of her books grace our shelves
Ignatius Press – a link to their children/teen lists
Chesterton Press – “Fiction that Evangelizes the Imagination”
Faith & Life Series – Used by homeschoolers and RE programs

Go watch this.  Now.

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