Catholic school, as vicious as Roman rule, I got my knuckles bruised by a lady in black. I held my tongue as she told me, son, fear is the heart of love. So I never went back.
“I Will Follow You Into The Dark,” Death Cab for Cutie
Our culture is full of ideas and images of what it means to be raised Catholic. Past-tense.
But a picture of raising kids Catholic today? A hazy blur, at best.
People often look puzzled when I tell them we go to church. Sometimes I get the condescending smile that suggests “well, isn’t that quaint and unenlightened.” Sometimes I get the blank stare that betrays utter ignorance of anyone still darkening a church’s doorstep these days.
And quite often I get a knowing roll of the eyes, followed by, “Well, I was raised Catholic, but…”
Most of my friends don’t go to church. I have more ex-Catholics in my life than practicing church-goers. And they’re in good company: 1 out of 10 Americans is a former Catholic.
So when I search for support in raising my kids Catholic, I sometimes feel like a pioneer wandering in the wilderness, despite the fact that parents have been doing this work for centuries.
My parish, like too many, has few resources for young families. Most of my friends with kids enjoy Sunday mornings at home rather than at church. And even with a degree in theology, I find myself casting about for ideas and inspiration on how to weave faith into the fabric of our family life.
So my question for those of you raising kids in the Catholic Church is: What does it look in your family? How is your life together colored by being Catholic? What difference does it make in your week, your routine, your house or your activities?
In our house, at this season in our lives, it looks like this: Mass on the weekends. Grace before meals. Simple hymns sung along with nursery rhymes. Books about God read with books by Dr. Seuss. Learning prayers as we learn ABCs. Saying I’m sorry for lost tempers. Saying thank you for people we love.
Some days I worry we’re not doing enough. (The boys are little, but still.) Some days I blush that we’re doing too much. (Like last week when my son declared to the babysitter that “you don’t have to be scared of the shadows in your room when you nap because Jesus is always there.”)
But almost every day I find myself wishing I had more ideas and inspiration for how to lead my kids down a path that fewer and fewer people are taking these days. The road feels lonely, and not well-lit.
We all know what it looks like to have been raised Catholic. But what does it mean to do the raising ourselves?