Forming families in faith

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Most desire marriage and family but true happiness comes from learning to want what God wants for us, writes Anna Walsh.
As we are called to stay home, why not use this time to think about your life and how to do things a little differently.

Try some of these innovative ways to guide children spiritually while in lockdown and on holidays

Lockdown can be a huge inconvenience or an unprecedented opportunity, depending on how you look at it.

If you’re a parent with children at home on school holidays, it can be a great time to connect with them while helping your kids connect with God in a greater way.
Spiritual transformation happens when kids come to know Jesus, rather than just know about Jesus.

As we are called to stay home, why not use this time to think about your life and how to do things a little differently. Here are some suggestions for the school holidays:

1. Pray together
Now you have the gift of time, make good use of it by praying together as a family, perhaps family bedtime or morning prayers as well as the Angelus at midday. Let your kids see you make use of this time to connect with God.

2. Saint Trivia Challenge
Introduce your children to the habit of finding out the saint of the day, then get them to summarise interesting facts about their lives with an emphasis on their patronage. At the end of the week, set the children a 20-question trivia challenge about the saints studied over the week.

3. Reach out to others
A great antidote to anxiety is taking action. Thinking about and praying for others in your family and community is a great way to help your kids feel empowered in the face of uncertainty. Make a call or write a note to let them know you are thinking of them.

4. Write a letter
Encourage kids to write cards of encouragement to emergency workers, clergy, schoolteachers or nursing home residents. Have them call or FaceTime their grandparents and read a Bible story to them.

A pilgrimage is one idea to keep children spiritually focused during Covid lockdowns – and buy everyone pizza or burgers afterwards. Photo: CNS, Natalie Hoefer, The Criterion

5. Make a video
Encourage children to use their family to make a Bible story video. There are some great apps available to help put together a video if they want to make it a little more produced.

6. Start and finish your day with God
It starts with you. Each morning, give thanks for all that is good in your life; and then ask God to give you all that you need – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control – so that you can be the parent that your children need. Each evening, reflect on your day and identify the moments when you experienced God’s presence; thank Him for those moments and for the things that went well.

7. Local Pilgrimage
Research a famous Pilgrimage route such as the Way of St Francis which makes its way from Florence via Assisi to Rome and how the saint is still an inspiration today.

8. Gardening
Create a garden or vegetable area and impress that they are going to be responsible for it from design, implementation and ongoing maintenance. Let them choose the theme, for example, a winter vegetable harvest, a Mary garden, or a miniature rainforest.

9. Thanksgiving Journal
Each day take the time to write 3 things you are thankful for accompanied by sketches. Sometimes it might be a petal, a photo, or even a Mars Bar wrapper!

10. “When This is Over” Jar
During this time of physical isolation, there will be many times when we wish we could do something, go somewhere or see someone we love etc. Invite each family member to create a special jar and write little notes to add to the jar each time you miss something previously taken for granted.

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