Encouraging your child(ren)'s Faith
It can be overwhelming to consider all the many values, skills, and capacities you want to help your child(ren) develop. When it comes to faith, parents can feel overwhelmed and even inadequate. You are not alone! But faith is not about having all the answers, making your child believe certain things, or forcing them to attend church. When we baptize, we conclude with the following prayer. It is a prayer that you can continue to pray for and with your children:
"Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage and will to persevere, a spirit to know and love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works."
Why not try saying a simple blessing before meals or before bed? This can help inspire in all of us a spirit of gratitude for our many blessings and compassion for those who are in any want, need or trouble. Try something simple:
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.
READ THE BIBLE
The stories we encounter in the Bible, sometimes also called "Holy Scripture" can be confusing, troubling and comforting; sometimes stories seem to be all of these at once. In Holy Scripture we learn from others' experiences of God and are thereby encouraged in our own faith journey. Sometimes these stories teach how we can be more loving, follow Jesus more faithfully, or rely on God more fully; sometimes they remind us of how even the faithful and good can stumble and make mistakes. There are many excellent Bibles for children. When infants are baptized in our parish we gift them with Desmond Tutu's Children of God Storybook Bible.
Some prayers are prayers of thanksgiving, but some prayers are a means to cry out to God with our fear and sorrow and our hopes for ourselves, our loved ones and our world. Prayer is not magic and it does not require specific words. You can teach your child simple prayers that they will hear repeated in church, such as the Lord's Prayer, you can also encourage them to pray by simply "talking to God," that is by simply voicing their thoughts and concerns and telling God how they feel. Children as much as adults face emotionally overwhelming experiences and questions about life's challenges. In prayer we remind ourselves that it is in God that we "live and move and have our being," and thus we are never facing challenges in isolation.
ENGAGE THEM IN LOVING ACTION
We have many ways of offering love and support within and beyond our community. Children can help collect and bring in items for St. Michael's Mission, Dorval Community Aid, or Auberge Madeleine. You could bring a can of healthy food for the DCA box each time you come to church. Maybe your child would like to choose which can of vegetables or soup you donate? Does your child have a favorite blanket, plush toy or type of soap or toothpaste they like to use? They can probably understand how much it means for a woman coming to Auberge Madeleine to have personal care items to use. And in the warm months you can take them to our community garden and check out what's growing; they can rejoice with us all that this healthy, fresh food is going to people who would otherwise go hungry. One of the most oft-quoted passages of the Bible comes from the Letter of James: "For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead."