A few weeks ago Sr. Augusta of the Nashville Dominicans gave a 2 hour talk on How to Pray as a Family. She referenced a study (sadly I missed the name) which had investigated what influences children to continue to practice their faith as adults. She told us these 5:
# 15 Religious Education Don’t think that because it is at 15, religious formation is unimportant. Kids need clear education in their faith. If they don’t have a good yardstick, they will have nothing to measure the lies of the world against.
#4 Praying as a family I have mentioned my family’s daily prayers. The Nashville Dominican’s have a lovely book A Short Guide to Praying as a Family to guide us to a better and fuller prayer life. I learned some new ideas, like a family meeting where you ask each other for forgiveness (!), and Bill is also excited to try some of the suggestions in the book.
#3 Relationship with Dad This can such a challenge, especially for military families, but Sr. Augusta had suggestions from a family counselor they work closely with. Before he sees a family for the first time, he has them do these three things. Often, after implementing them, they never need counseling.
- When you come home, leave technology at the door. While you are home with your kids, be with them or available to them.
- Only turn on the TV if the whole family is watching. This can be an opportunity to rethink whether what you watch is appropriate even for you.
- Eat dinner as a family. A quick google will reveal the many benefits to family dinner.
#1 Relationship with Mom This one was a surprise to me. I thought Dad would win for sure. In fact, as my son has been applying to seminary, I have been very comforted that his vocation is a call from God and has nothing to do with me. “Nothing” might be a little too hands-off because Sister’s words echoed the words of the letter above, which was written to a mother of a dear priest friend of ours and given to me as a gift.
Well, I have always been a firm believer that when a boy enters the Religious Life, it is primarily due to the fact that his Mother set the initial example that made his whole being work toward the glorious day of Ordination. I am certain that the credit lies with you, and I know that when the Bishop was anointing him, there was never a prouder moment in your life. You will look back upon your day of marriage as one of profound spiritual happiness – but to see a son become “Another Christ” is one of profound spiritual love and devotion.
Of course our greatest desire is that our kids will continue to mature and grow in their faith as adults and be open to the call which God has for them. In addition to normal “what do you want to be when you grow up” conversation, I talk to my kids about vocations to the religious life, which is pretty easy since both my brother and my uncle (pictured above) are priests. However, a vocations director told me that the number one reason a boy considers the priesthood is because a priest asks him to consider it. So here is my vocational secret for you….ask priests to ask your sons to be priests! Also, read and have the book To Save a Thousand Souls in your house (caveat: this has mature topics). And for your girls A Right to be Merry.