...according to the law of Christ.

Gina, wonderful gal that she is, had so much wisdom when it came to the vow about accepting children and bringing them up according to the law of Christ, that one post simply couldn’t hold it all. Here, for your mental and spiritual enjoyment, is part two of her post. {Part one can be found here.}

I last talked about accepting children in marriage in part 1…


…and now I’m back to keep talking at you about raising those children!

The first few years are easy, right? Get married, have babies, enjoy the bundles of sweetness in the midst of sleepless nights and piles of laundry… And then the sweet little souls God’s blessed your family with are old enough for school and an education.

This education is where “bringing them up according to the law of Christ” enters the equation. It is not enough to send your child to the parish Sunday School program, or even to a Catholic elementary school. Oh no, my friends. There is so much more to raising our children in the faith. Not all parish schools are teaching the truths of the faith as strongly as we’d hope, not all Sunday School programs are going to hook your kids and guide them well. Many do, but it is NOT the job of the schools to be the primary–i.e. first, most important, best–teachers of your children, especially in the faith. That is OUR job, as parents, to be the “first school” of the faith.

Back in 1965, Pope Paul VI had a little something to say about parents and their role in educating their children:

“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellow men and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people.” (Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis)

To bring up children in the law of Christ is important! How else will we pass on the faith we hold dear if we ourselves do not share it with our children? Don’t fret! It is simpler than you might imagine, you don’t need a degree in theology, and it is just one more way we ourselves grow in holiness on our journey to the ultimate goal (Heaven, remember? You aren’t so sleep deprived from those little blessings running around that you’ve forgotten the goal, have you? Go grab a cuppa coffee and refresh yourself, you’ll feel better.)

Start off with a home that is loving! It is what you got in this to begin with, so love shouldn’t be too hard. Attend Mass as a family, pray together before meals and bedtime, share Bible stories. All this begins even before a child is school-aged. Every day is an opportunity for our families to be living examples of Christ’s love, to help our children grow in the knowledge of the faith.

It gets trickier when a child is ready for school. Where do you send them, and how do you ensure you still are the strongest influence? Start with praying about it! Each family will find a different answer, and often the answer will change from year to year. The important part is to keep doing what you started doing: praying together at home, going to Mass together, celebrating the holy days, reading stories from the Bible and about the saints together. Love each other. Pray for each other and your family and friends. Serve your neighbors together. LIVE as people of faith who are motivated by God’s love, and you have found the answer.

Don’t expect for a picture-perfect shining example of domestic church all the time. I remember one time, during the quietest moment of Mass, my toddler loudly proclaimed that Jesus drank beer. Some nights we send the kids to bed early and say abbreviated bedtime prayers, because they’re too darn cranky we are too short on patience. On Good Friday my 4 yr old loudly farted just as the priests were leaving the church, during that time of “sacred silence”. We don’t always sit still during Mass, we sometimes forget to abstain from meat on Fridays, we don’t get to Confession as often as we’d like…but we try. We do our best each day, pray for the grace and strength to grow in God’s love and do better, and rely on His mercy to cover the rest.

Curious about how it looks in my domestic church? I’ll give you a brief run-down, and you’re free to follow my blog or email me for the day-to-day details!

We pray as a family before meals and before the kids go to bed, daily. We attend Mass every week together. Our children have been enrolled in parish Sunday School and sacrament prep programs for the last 5 years. We homeschool, and our homeschool curriculum includes reading from the Bible, reading about saints’ lives, and celebrating the Church year. 11260621426_bc9ef28f1e_z(Some of those are actually part of our formal study, and some, such as celebrating the Church year, are part of our family life anyway.) We participate in parish activities, including the bike race at the parish picnic. It’s all about realizing that our faith isn’t just about the “rules”, but about a joyful life! 9550047793_4194b44b64_bWe answer our kids’ questions as they come up, we discuss things at dinner, we try our best to make our faith life not just an hour on Sunday at Mass, but something which motivates all that we do.

Now, don’t go thinking it’s not possible. It IS possible. It is possible because it’s the way God meant for marriage and family life to be, and you know how marriage is a sacrament? And sacraments give us graces? Yeah…every time you *make* one of those sweet babes, your graces are increasing and thus your ability to do this thing is increasing. You can do it. You want to do it. It gets you to heaven! Happy marriage, children, and passing on the faith!

Gina is a wife, daughter, mother, friend, homeschooling mama, Colorado native. Documenting life through photography and blogging at somedaysaints.wordpress.com lets her save memories for her family, and is a creative outlet for her during her crazy awesome and busy days. Yup, you read that right, crazy awesome days. She may have 5 kids, a hubby, and some random pets in the care of her kids…she may have the overtime job of homeschooling and making meals all day long, wiping noses and tushies, kissing ouchies and handing out band aids, listening to the dreams and dramas in her kids’ (and husband’s!) lives…but their days are awesome. They’re Catholic, move often, watch Doctor Who, and have inside jokes. She is actually old enough to have the five children she has birthed in 4 states (no one believes her), and yes, her hands are full but they are never, ever bored.

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