Don’t focus on the family, part four

kid hand flower RGBmgDzFCUFrom the U.S. Catholic interview with Julie Hanlon Rubio:

In your book you write about the five practices families should adopt if they want to live out their faith. Surely one of these involves money, right? 

You guessed it. Most Catholics believe that they should give some of their money away. The difficulty is figuring out when we have excess and how much we can really give.

That’s why I like tithing because it’s a regular practice—maybe not 10 percent, but a percentage that varies depending on your circumstances. Studies on charitable giving clearly state that families who give a fixed percentage every month give more than people who just give whenever they feel like it.

Let’s also ask whether we can live a bit out of step with our station in life. Can we live a step down in order to tithe? Families can decide together what might be good charities, which is another way of getting families to think, “What are we really about?”

Our kids, for example, know that there are things that we could buy but we don’t—an Xbox, for example—because we want to keep giving.

And that brings us to another practice, prayer. When I first started talking about the importance of families doing service and social justice, another theologian said to me, “That’s all well and good, but other families do that, too. The really hard thing would be to actually pray with your kids.”

He had teenagers at the time, and that has proved to be a wise saying. It’s probably the most radical thing you can do. Aside from grace before meals, very few people are doing any prayer with their kids, especially once you move past the preschool years.

So what’s the secret?

You start by trying to at least create some quiet in the midst of all the busyness for reflection, connections, and centering yourself. Then bring in some text, prayers, music, images. So you end up with some gratitude, some readings, some reflection.

One of the things our family does during Advent is draw names: We’re supposed to pray for the person and do little things for them. On Christmas Eve we reveal who we had, and you’re supposed to say how the other person brings Christ to the world.

That has been a really beautiful thing; even my three young boys were able to do this beautifully. I’m there thinking, “Wow, are you really saying this about your brother? That’s amazing.” They never would be saying those things if we hadn’t created the space for that

Which leads me to think that if you can overcome your own embarrassment and discomfort and find your way towards something that feels comfortable and enriching, you might be surprised at what your family can do.

At Home with Our Faith is Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2013 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

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