How can I start to build up our faith at home?
First of all, good for you that you are thinking and pondering how you can start or continue to build up the faith of your family.
Keep in mind that your desire for God is a gift from God. He put that desire in your heart because he wants to grow inside of you and in the bosom of your home. That holy desire is a desire that he wants to give you; Scripture says,
“Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act” Psalm 37:4-5.
This Scripture is perhaps the answer you are seeking. It has four main parts corresponding to the four words I highlighted.
Building up the faith of your family should not be a dreaded chore or another item on a to-do list. God is perfect, and we are made like him and for him. In him we find our completeness, in him we find our meaning and our deepest joy.
He is quite literally the longing of all our deepest desires. There is no higher good than to be close to God. Therefore, chasing after God, finding faith, growing closer to God should be a joy.
Vince Lombardi said, “Once you agree upon the price you and your family must pay for success, it enables you to ignore the minor hurts, the opponent’s pressure and the temporary failures.”
If you apply this to the spiritual life, you can see how this quote can translate to our commitment to bring a stronger faith to our homes. There will be a price to pay. Perhaps in order to spend 30 minutes praying or reading the Scriptures each day, you and your children will need to lose 30 minutes of TV; or perhaps in order to help at the parish food pantry you will need to miss one day of ice fishing; or perhaps you will need to watch your tongue because it really has become a double-edged sword.
Perhaps the price is steeper because you have bad habits that you KNOW you have to give up;these will cost you, but the reward for success far outweighs any price involved. Commit to your family’s spiritual success.
“Pray, hope and don’t worry” – these were words made famous by St. Padre Pio. Was Padre Pio naïve? “Don’t worry” seems like advice for a child not for a modern adult. If you take a moment to read about the life of this great saint – another great practice in building the faith of your family – you will learn that he was far from naïve.
He knew, perhaps better than many of us, the reasons to worry, having lived through World War I, World War II and having heard the confessions of countless people.
What he knew even more surely was that prayer – prayer that comes from the heart – was the key to God’s heart and to the treasure of grace and ocean of mercy in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to worry because “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom 8:31.
He will act
Many people see the sad state of the world, or their families, and imagine that either God has abandoned us or that he is powerless to do anything about the great evil in the world. Neither of these myths could be further from the truth.
Our entire human history can be seen as a history of salvation. No matter what sinful people have done, God has always sent his messengers, his prophets, his servants until the time was right and he came in the flesh himself, through the Virgin Mary, in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. We are not abandoned.
In Jesus, God showed us that he is also not powerless, “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” Mt 11:5.
These signs are still occurring in the innumerable miracles that raise the beatified to sainthood in our church and in the ways that we reach out and stretch our comfort zones to help each other to see with new eyes, to walk the narrow path, to hear the Word anew, to heal the hurts inside, to find purpose and meaning in life and to learn about the goodness, mercy and love of God.
So this is how you get started building the faith in your home. Commit to it, make it an ongoing project for life; never, never quit this goal. Trust that God has the best interest of your family at heart and will act on your behalf. Trust that your prayers are heard, trust that your sacrifices in trying to walk the narrow path are accepted and trust that this is so valuable that it is worth your time to pray, effort to change, money to buy good books and DVDs, and talent to reach out to others in self-less service.
Finally, remember through it all that God longs for us infinitely more than we long for him. We are precious to him, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” Is 49:15.
God loves us and so we should delight in him, we need to know that he wants to be found, he is ready to embrace us and receive us; that is the great message of the sacraments.
Delight in his mercy and approach him in the sacrament of reconciliation, delight in his generosity and approach him in the sacrament of the Eucharist and so with all the sacraments. Start building your faith and your family’s faith on the solid foundation described here, and you will be like the fertile soil which yielded 30, 60 and one hundredfold.
(Henry, his wife, Dr. Patricia Cabral, and their five children belong to St. Patrick Parish, Milwaukee. Reyes, a doctoral candidate at Mundelein Seminary/University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein, Ill., is also in the deacon formation program for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.)