Sometimes I think we (Catholics) are so conditioned to the idea that only Priests may preach the Gospel that we forget within our homes we, too, have the power of the pulpit and the perfect setting for it. The dinner table. This takes some planning and commitment, but isn’t that hard to do. When our kids were in their school years, we agreed to not talk about ourselves at dinner unless the kids asked us to speak about it. We tried to use that time to interact with the kids, hear them, and teach them. When their stomachs are empty, you have a captive audience for a few minutes a day at least.
You know our Founding Fathers (national, not Church) left behind an incredible volume of writings that teach us who they were and what they were, and frankly it doesn’t resemble anything in any textbook in America. You don’t have to go to the National Archives and read them, as many biographers have done that work for you. Get a few of these books and read them, and you will be surprised at what you can teach from them.
A good example is when you hear people talk about Benjamin Franklin, implying he had so little by way of religious belief you’d think he was an atheist if you read the history texts. But Franklin is the one who instituted those daily opening prayers in the Houses of Congress, and he did it by giving a speech full of biblical quotations (Gen 10; Psalm 127; Mt 6) that were not lost on the people he spoke them to. On Thursday, June 27, 1787, an 81-year old Franklin, barely able to walk, took the floor and said this:
“Gentlemen, in the beginning of the contest with Great Britian, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sirs, were heard and they were graciously answered. If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His (God’s) notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?
We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. . . . I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more clergy of the city be requested to officiate in that service.”
This is the guy your kid’s textbook paints as hardly having a belief in God at all.
Truth is the kind of intellectual food that, if you feed your children, makes them see the cheapness of historical summary texts for what they really are. They grow to understand we receive a sifted set of facts that may or may not represent reality, and at least in my own experience, it made they understand that the path to truth is not to sit on your back side and expect others to spoon it into you, but to go find the information from sources that are reliable and have no other vested interest.