Trying to strengthen our faith


#1

Something I’ve been working on the past couple years is trying to build a stronger foundation of faith for my family. I was brought up Catholic, spent 12 years in Catholic schools and was pretty steadfast in my faith up until college. My mother always expected us to go to Mass and be good Catholics, but she never really discussed what that meant or why we should do it. I tried getting back into it when my wife & I got married, and then again a few years later, but a string of negative experiences kept pushing me away. I made a big turnaround a few years ago and was making some real headway until our littlest was born. We’ve struggled with Mass attendance since then for a variety of reasons, which is something I’m really working to overcome.

My wife never attended Catholic schools, and although her parents took her to Mass semi-regularly up through junior high, they never sent her to CCD (or whatever it’s called now), never discussed religion with her and pretty much dropped any effort at fostering her faith by the time she hit her teens. As a result, she doesn’t have the best idea of what it means to be a Catholic or what’s really expected of her in regards to the Church. I’m doing my best to steer her in the right direction, but it can be a struggle at times.

We put our son through 12 years of Catholic schools, but religion was never his favorite subject. Unfortunately, most of that time was also when I wasn’t feeling all that good about being part of the Church myself. Making matters worse, he had one friend who was very anti-Catholic who filled his head with a ton of misinformation. He then took a religions of the world class with a teacher who had a very anti-Catholic/pro-Islam slant. I keep trying to talk to him about the Church, but it can get tedious hearing about how oppressive the Catholic Church is and how peaceful and wonderful Islam is.

Our girls are getting a fairly good religious foundation from the school, but I want to do my best to not only keep them going in the right direction, but get my wife and son moving that way as well. I also know that a lot of what I was taught growing up wasn’t quite in line with the Church’s actual teachings and that I have a whole lot of room for improvement. If anyone has any advice, recommendations for what we could do better as a family or resources that would help me out, I’d be extremely grateful.


#2

While I can't really say that our stories parallel, I recognize some strong elements of myself in your story. I came from a strong Catholic family, but still we didn't really discuss our faith in any depth, and I fell away by the time I was 19, I looked at other faiths in a general way, but never joined any others. Rather I sort of cobbled together my own views....
I never gave my son a consistant spiritual upbringing. Just sort of fits and starts here and there...How could I when I didn't know what I was doing....
Finally, after much time and effort, I returned to the Church and the Sacraments, Priase God.

I don't have a great deal of advise to offer, but will share what little I have.
[LIST]
*]Work on yourself spiritually. You cannot share what you don't have. Your Children will see this. Pray regularly, and wear your faith openly. Volunteer at church if possible. You go to confession and see that your children see you go, and that they go themselves. Be consistant in these things.
*]Love your wife. One of the greatest things that parents can teach their children is a proper, loving marriage.
*]Pray together as a family. It need not be anything lengthy or involved. As a child, we always said grace and night prayers, but in addition, during lent, we would always pray the rosary after supper before getting up from the table. A simple thing like that can leave a lasting impression.
*]Encourage you children to ask questions. If you don't know the answer, don't be afraid to say so and then help them to try and look up an answer.

*]The greatest thing that you will be able to pass on to your children is your example...Make it a good one.
[/LIST]
I hope some of the above will be of help to you.

Peace
James


#3

Have you considered the family rosary every night :)


#4

I sympathize with your situation. In this feminist age, when the wife is not aligned with your faith, it is a big problem.

I recommend attacking with some strategy. Consider yourself in the middle of a circle. Get yourself into a state of grace and growing rapidly in holiness and knowledge of the faith first. Then you can expand to include your wife (more on this later). Once your wife is beginning to recover from the spiritual blindness, you can then start an effective transfer of the faith to your children. Keep this order in mind. Remember, the evil one is looking for the weak points in your defense and propagation of the faith.

Second, and mostly regarding the wife, find feminine tracks for her to advance on. If you know of a good holy family at the local parish, ask them if they can help with your wife. She will need a “feminine” partner to make progress. Check out the new womens show on EWTN. I think you can watch old episodes on the shows website. It just came out last month.

Above all, keep your wife and family far away from lukewarm parish life, liturgical abuse, the social justice movement, etc. Sure progress is only with the authentic faith. There is a big difference and the church in america is suffering from an inside rebellion since Vatican II.

I will pray for you too.


#5

I fail to see a connection between “feminism” and failure to share faith. According to that line of thought I wouldn’t be a practicing Catholic because my husband isn’t. I couldn’t stand that! I think feminism is defined differently by different people, but I think in ths day and age, women have to have some ability to live and make decisions without their husbands. My husband was in the military. He was often gone. If I were a weak submissive wife I can’t imagind being able to cope with running a household and taking care of 6 children, 4 of them sons.

I agree that working on strengthening your own faith and not being obsessive about it,( but not hiding it,) and loving your spouse as the Church says you should, along with a lot of prayer is a good way to influence your spouse and even your kids to want to know more about your faith.

I think praying a family rosary with non-believing family would feel tedious to them and cause more resentment than acceptance.


#6

[quote="Gordon_Sims, post:1, topic:235640"]
Something I've been working on the past couple years is trying to build a stronger foundation of faith for my family. I was brought up Catholic, spent 12 years in Catholic schools and was pretty steadfast in my faith up until college. My mother always expected us to go to Mass and be good Catholics, but she never really discussed what that meant or why we should do it. I tried getting back into it when my wife & I got married, and then again a few years later, but a string of negative experiences kept pushing me away. I made a big turnaround a few years ago and was making some real headway until our littlest was born. We've struggled with Mass attendance since then for a variety of reasons, which is something I'm really working to overcome.

My wife never attended Catholic schools, and although her parents took her to Mass semi-regularly up through junior high, they never sent her to CCD (or whatever it's called now), never discussed religion with her and pretty much dropped any effort at fostering her faith by the time she hit her teens. As a result, she doesn't have the best idea of what it means to be a Catholic or what's really expected of her in regards to the Church. I'm doing my best to steer her in the right direction, but it can be a struggle at times.

We put our son through 12 years of Catholic schools, but religion was never his favorite subject. Unfortunately, most of that time was also when I wasn't feeling all that good about being part of the Church myself. Making matters worse, he had one friend who was very anti-Catholic who filled his head with a ton of misinformation. He then took a religions of the world class with a teacher who had a very anti-Catholic/pro-Islam slant. I keep trying to talk to him about the Church, but it can get tedious hearing about how oppressive the Catholic Church is and how peaceful and wonderful Islam is.

Our girls are getting a fairly good religious foundation from the school, but I want to do my best to not only keep them going in the right direction, but get my wife and son moving that way as well. I also know that a lot of what I was taught growing up wasn't quite in line with the Church's actual teachings and that I have a whole lot of room for improvement. If anyone has any advice, recommendations for what we could do better as a family or resources that would help me out, I'd be extremely grateful.

[/quote]

Dear Gordon.
I recommend that you use less time thinking about the Church and use more time working individually and as a family to talk about Jesus and spend time with Him.
It's not the job of the school to teach your children to have a personal relationship with Jesus, that's your task. And that's the only thing that can make kids survive as Christians in pagan societies, not a religious school or church going per se etc.

As for your son.. Its really sad to hear how far he is from having that personal relationship with Jesus.
My advice to you is that you get educated and wipe that evil from the midst of your family which this flirt with islam is.

I advice you to get hold on "Islam and terrorism" by Mark E. Gabriel.. this is a strong testimony.. don't be afraid to let your kid see this book in your house.
And then you should buy some biography on Muhammad.. it will tell you about a man who practiced phedofilia, polygamy, lying, and war.. The best way to lead your son out of harms way is to make him realise the big difference between Jesus and Muhammad.

You gotta deal with this in a non-passive way.

I also advice you to get hold on strong Christian testimonies. many of the best ones are Evangelical, but I recommend them anyhow because they work. Get aquainted with people who have that extra.. not just living the traditions of Catholicism but who are filled with the Holy Spirit and have really powerful testimonies and zeal to share,
Make contacts like that and invite them to your home.. Thats my advice.. Thats how it all started with me when I was a mere nominal protestant at 20 whose parents had always taken Christianity for granted but never been rolemodels of the intimacy between man and Christ.. One evening I met a woman who knew that Jesus Christ was right here and alive, and He had healed her from a physical illness.. on that day my life started changing.


#7

Dear Gordon, change requires an open mind and willingness to face the fact that your life could be lived in a better way. This is tough for some people. As you add aspects of the religious life to your home, there will inevitably be a point where someone confronts you and rebels. This is very frustrating. Offer it up to our Lord who died for us on the cross.

If all attempts to advance in the religious life in the home seem to be met with rejection, do not despair. Keep growing on your own. Someday in the distant future you will be close to holiness. One or more of your children will be going through a very rough time and will suddenly have their eyes opened to your example. This is the point of victory!

Being married to a spouse that does not practice the faith is a heavy burden. You may not be able to make progress with your wife. Pray for her and keep going. It may be that she repents and reaches a point of perfect contrition just before she passes away from earth. This may be far in the future but your progress and tender care today may be what wins in the end.

Try to convince any children you have to marry someone that helps them to heaven. Marrying outside the church is a very tough route.


#8

Thanks for all the great advice! I've considered saying the Rosary each night but I think that would be a huge leap, whereas smaller steps might work better at first. One of the difficulties my wife has is that the information she did get while growing up was way off base. While I could use a refresher on several things, she never received that knowledge to begin with. I bought her a "Catholicism for Dummies" type book a year or so ago but it wasn't quite what we were looking for and has since vanished into a bookshelf somewhere. She sees prayer as an entirely private thing and Mass as more a burden than an obligation. I think the biggest help would be some lengthy conversations on the subject, but by the time we get to the point where we have time for that, sleep ends up being the priority. My goal is to at least break the ice this week and build from there.

As far as my son & Islam goes, it's not like he's considering converting or anything; he does have the attitude that any path to God is just fine and he has a lot of misgivings about the Catholic Church right now due to his friends, that teacher and his selective readings in the media. He sees no point in going to Confession (or at least in his going to Confession) and he is much more open to being a pick-and-choose type Catholic than one who fully adheres to his faith (the easiest path always being best). I think he'll be much more of an uphill battle but I've had more of an opportunity to discuss some of this with him than with my wife so he's at least getting some of my insight and example.

One really frustrating thing is that I've long felt that hearing some of this from other people would have a bigger impact than them viewing me as preaching to them. My wife's group of friends is only about half Catholic. Of the ones who are, one is a very lax, pick-and-choose variety; the other is pretty solid in her faith but doesn't view it as something to talk about, so none of them seem like they'd really be any help. We started having what I thought was going to be a great talk at my parents' house a couple weeks ago. My mother started talking about how great it is to be a Catholic (completely unlike anything I'd seen her do before), but just as we started getting into it, my son left the room and my mom dropped the subject then didn't want to get back to it later. :shrug:


#9

I second saying the rosary. If not as a family, say it yourself. I have had my oldest daughter leave the Church. She spent most of her life in a school for the blind away from us. She was heavily influenced by her friends & houseparents. We tried, but she wanted nothing to do with being Catholic her past year of high school. The rest of my kids (6 more) are doing very well. I do not send my kids to CCD because I feel it is our job as parents to teach them our faith. There are way too many kids in our CCD program that are not getting what they should. Kids that have no idea it is a sin to miss mass. Kids who have no idea what the stations of the cross are. Our kids are the only kids there every week. Kids who do not genuflect when they get into church. Or if they do they aren't facing forward. My kids serve & I also have one that is now a lector & soon to be Eucharistic minister. I am proud of them, but it has been a lot of work teaching them.
You can teach without being preachy. Pick a subject & talk about it. Leave books lying around for them to read. This has helped our kids. They all love to read & I will find them reading different things I buy.
We have been saying the rosary every night during lent as a family. They now ask me when we will say it. I don't have to find them to sit down, they come to me. I have an 8 year old that can say the entire rosary herself with ending prayers. Something I know most kids in CCD at our parish can't do.
At our house, anything to do with Church comes first. We had a priest guest speaker the first week of lent. Once again, my kids & I think 2 or 3 others were the only kids from our parish to attend. :( There are too many parents letting sports & school activities come before church activities. It should be the other way around. I have seen kids attending 4-H meetings at our parish hall instead of coming to the stations of the cross. They could schedule their meeting for after, but they don't. I do not blame the kids. We as parents need to set what is priority.
My husband was raised Catholic, but it took me quite some time to get him to see that some of the things he was doing was against the Church's teaching. No preaching, but just giving hints & talking to him in a kind way. We are finally on the same page. I am so happy with how things are going now. I continue to pray for my daughter that her eyes might be opened to the truth soon. The one thing I would love to share with her, my Catholic faith, is not something she wants to talk about.
I wish you well. Do not give up & take small steps. I have a lot of good DVDs & CDs also. While I don't make my kids sit & listen to them, I will have them going & find they do listen.


#10

Do you have any suggestions as far as books, DVD's & CD's? I think something overly preachy would cause more harm than good, but something that we could use as a starting point would be great.


#11

Well, 2 movies my kids love were Bernadette & also The 13th Day. Both about Mary apparitions at Lourdes & Fatima. This then brought on a discussion about Mary & that can then lead into other things. Why Mary wants us to pray the rosary. What praying the rosary means as far as meditating on the mysteries. It’s baby steps. They actually love any movie that has to do with Jesus.
Jesus of Nazereth
Mary, mother of Jesus
Joseph of Nazereth
Mary of Nazereth
The Gospel of John
Matthew
The 10 Commandments
The Nativity Story
In The Beginning (love this one, covers from creation through the story of Moses)
Any DVD Father Corapi has is good, although might be too preachy at first. I personally can sit & listen to him all day because he tells it like it is with no beating around the bush. I have his Cathecism series which is 48 hours of him covering all of the Church’s beliefs. I have just started it. His DVD on the Rosary is good.
I have found most kids don’t even know basic Bible stories. Anything that tells a story about God or the life of Jesus. This can be a time to point out different beliefs & why we believe that way. Not sure of your kids’ ages.
I have several books on different saints. I will tell them about a certain saint, what they did during their life & how we can apply that to our life.
If your wife is willing to read something, I recommend: Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. Excellent book! You might read this one also if you haven’t. I have found that reading & studying myself helps me come up with ways to talk with my family. Maybe work on just educating yourself more so you can answer a question when it arises. My kids know if I can’t tell them the answer right away, I will be able to tell them within a day because I make it a point to look it up & explain it right away.


#12

[quote="Gordon_Sims, post:10, topic:235640"]
Do you have any suggestions as far as books, DVD's & CD's? I think something overly preachy would cause more harm than good, but something that we could use as a starting point would be great.

[/quote]

Two movies that made a revival in my life and inspired me and made Catholicism look awesome were:

  • Karol, a Man Who Became Pope
  • Padre Pio, Miracle Man

I know what these did to me, and what they did to others. They make you wanna be holy, close to Jesus, and be the morally strong Christians .. :)

You see, what you wanna give to your kids and wife is what I'd call a presense-faith.
Many people think that Jesus walked two thousand years ago, and nothing happend since then. They have a "past-faith" and many of these focus more on keeping rituals than on walking with Jesus as a real person with a real presense beside them every day. Often this is combined with "future-faith".. they believe they will be in heaven, but until then they shouldn't expect the great manifestations of Christ in their lives.
What true Christianity is about, is making the Gospels happen right here and right now in your own living room, work place, etc..
We are the present time disciples. and when we live like that, people become attracted to that thing about us which is joyful, powerful and peacefull all at once.
Thats the Holy Spirit..
Some Holy Spirit devotions will be very helpful for you to testify, because He is the Spirit of testimony and witness

Also, do not underestimate the Bible. God says: "My Word does not return to Me without having effected". I have a sister who has spent the last two weeks reading Scripture much more than ever before, and God has graced her with great leaps of faith within that time, so she has become a great inspiration to my own faith. The Word of God is supernatural.. read it, pray with it..

:thumbsup:


#13

some suggestions:
[LIST=1]
*]Conversion stories might work well. I know I like them. And they might provide both inspiration and starting points for discussion. At the very least they can start everyone thinking.
[LIST]
*]There is a program on EWTN on Monday nights called “The Journey Home”. The host is a convert himself and the guests are all either converts or “reverts”. Good show and can bring up points that your wife and/or son are wrestling with. Past shows can be viewed on Youtube.
[/LIST]
*]A book that is highly recommended is called “Rome sweet Home” by Dr. Scott Hahn. He is a convert from evanglelicalism. He also has a number of good tapes etc out.
*]Another convert who I like is Steven Ray.
*]Since you mention that both you and your wife need refreshing, you might consider attending an RCIA course next year at your parish. Even though these are primarily geared toward those coming into the church, it could also be of great help to you.
[/LIST]


#14

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