As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Friday, April 6, 2012

Easter With Kids

Before Jeff and I started having children, we knew that we wanted prayer to be a part of our everyday family life, and that we wanted to share our faith with them from a very young age.  We imagined that it would be seamless - that because we were living our faith, our kids would just naturally pick up on it.  What I didn't realize was how much of my faith was an interior life, and when you have kids you have to dig deep to bring that to the surface - and communicate it to them in a way that is meaningful.  And that can be quite daunting.

Our first few years of family life were almost completely devoid of family prayer, save for the occasional Our Father (and of course, weekly Mass).  I struggled with how to talk to my toddlers and preschoolers about who Jesus was, and why He was important.  I wanted it to be so much more for them than just words that they say, or rituals they follow.  But how do you explain that in a child's terms?

Turns out, it's not nearly as complicated as I thought. They are quite capable of understanding a faith that is shared on their terms, and lived in their own family.  But I discovered something extraordinary along the way - in taking the opportunity to talk with them and answer their questions, I was forced to think about my own faith in ways that I have not done, probably since the early days of its first stirrings within me.  All these things that I hold so deeply within me I have somehow pushed "off out there", but when the kids ask questions I have to go back to the beginning, on the most basic level.  And it awakens in me a desire and an excitement that I have not felt in a long time.  The excitement, I suppose, of a little child.

The kids making their way to the next station
This lent has been pretty much a write-off for me, spiritually.  I have not kept up with any of the extra prayer that I had set out to do, nor have I curbed any of the bad habits I set out to conquer.  This week, however, has been much different.  There is an outdoor way of the cross at our church two minutes from our house, and one afternoon while the baby was napping and my husband was home to stay with him, I took the rest of the kids over.  We printed off a children's version of the way of the cross, and just stopped at each station, talking about what happened to Jesus and what that must have felt like for him and the people around Him.  We also talked a lot about the ways in which we cause Jesus to suffer, and were thankful for all the suffering He endured for our sake.  I cannot tell you the last time I went through the way of the cross with such sincerity and devotion, and it was all under the direction of these beautiful little ones, who have a way of passing on a faith to me when all along I thought it was my job to pass it on to them.

I pray that the rest of this Easter season will be a blessing for everyone.  If you get a chance to talk to a little one in your life about it - do it!  Ask them questions, and listen to your answers.  You might be amazed at what the Lord opens up through the faith of a little child.

Pausing for reflection

1 comment :

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