Do you have children at home and want to bring them closer to God? These seven practices will help you form your little ones in faith.
Rachel Padilla noted in an EpicPew article that "modeling and exposure" are good ways to introduce children to the Catholic faith and its traditions.
Pope Francis indicated in 2014 that:
“A Christian must take great care of the children and transmit the faith to them, transmit what he lives, which is in his heart… All of us have the responsibility to give the best we have and the best we have is faith. Give it to them, but give it by example!”
These seven practices will help you bring children closer to the Catholic faith:
1. Art and Sacred Icons
Padilla noted that images are powerful tools for children to learn about the world.
"Be sure to expose them to images of the important people and events of our faith. Icons of Jesus and Mary, statues of saints, and paintings of the Last Supper can all help kids to know that the faith is important too," she said.
2. History of Saints for Children
Currently, there are many books for children that tell the lives of saints. This type of reading is a perfect way to start the conversation about holiness.
"To make it even more special, find books that include saints relevant to your family, region, or parish," she noted.
A large wooden or silicone rosary should be a staple in a Catholic home with children.
Padilla pointed out that showing the little ones the cross, the image of the Virgin, and how this sacramental is used for prayer can help children understand the importance of the rosary in the life of faith.
4. Patron Saint
Help your little one foster a devotion to a patron saint. Choose one based on his or her name or look for a saint whose feast day is close to your child's birthday or baptismal date.
Give them pictures or dolls of their saint and help them pray for his or her intercession.
5. Daily Mass
Padilla stressed that the daily Mass is an “excellent tool for teaching children,” since, during it, you have the opportunity to be in a sacred space, where the little ones can become familiar with the prayers and see that faith is a daily priority.
“Sometimes a shorter, more chill, less-populated daily Mass can even be easier for kids than the hustle and bustle of Sunday morning,” she said.
6. Let Them See You Pray
“When we pray in front of our toddlers, they learn more than we even realize. More than letting them see you offer 'Our Fathers,' let them see that you have a personal and intimate relationship with God. And if you don’t, let them see you working on it,” she highlighted.
If we tell the little ones to be calm while we have important calls, why not show them the importance of prayer in daily life?
7. Pray with Them
Padilla encouraged parents to pray a "Hail Mary" before bed, "The Angelus" before lunch, or say a short morning prayer that can mark the child's day.
"Praying with toddlers shouldn’t be long and complicated–almost nothing we do with them can be," she said. "Inviting them to join you in short prayers they’ll soon memorize shows them that faith and prayer aren’t just for adults."