First and foremost, we must slow down and live in each moment as God gives it to us. Think about the pace of your family life. Is it a mad dash to the finish line each day, overstuffed with too much doing, and not enough being?
Do you stop and call your children’s attention to the rosestreaked sunset, the purple coneflower nodding in the breeze, and the call of the cardinal, blessing your backyard tree? God manifests God’s self in creation. Help your children to explore and savor all that God has created and to discover God’s divine plan evidenced in the seasonal cycle of nature each year – the dying and rising to new life.
Most people would attest that they feel closest to God in nature. Turn off the TV and computer and get your family outside in all seasons. Your children will experience our awesome God, up close and personal, as they chase fireflies and make snow angels.
Invite God into your everyday conversation. Don’t be afraid to pray a spontaneous prayer together when you hear a siren, thank God for your food at the restaurant, and say goodbye each morning with a “May God bless you and keep you, and bring you safely home!”
The bedtime and meal prayers you are already saying are a wonderful opportunity for prayers of gratitude. Can each family member name one thing from their day for which they are thankful? Counting your blessings each day keeps you in right relationship with God, who is the source of all love and goodness in your lives.
What images of God are present in your home? Do you have a crucifix, a statue of Jesus, his Blessed Mother, and your family’s favorite saint placed in your living area as visual reminders of your spiritual guides? Do your family prayers reflect the liturgical season of the church? Do you keep Advent, Lent, the holy days, and feast days? Is your family Bible enthroned in a place of respect where the family can see it each day, touch it, and become familiar with its words of everlasting life?
You will not be able to incorporate all these suggestions into your family spirituality at once! God is a patient God and understands that we are always in the process of coming to a greater awareness of the Divine Mystery. Gently and gradually, weave God into the fabric of your everyday family life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with the ways and means to do this.
Kathy Coffey, in her book “Experiencing God with Your Children,” says, “Parents and children who meet God at home are more inclined to broaden their orbit and find God everywhere…. Using home as the starting point, the end of our theology should not seem so odd. For Jesus’ earthly life began in the small circle of affection at Bethlehem, and ended in the circle of his mother’s arms.”
(Christ is a consultant in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The married mother of four young adult children, she gives talks and workshops, leads retreats and is a spiritual director. Christ self-publishes materials for parishes, and is the author of “Journeying with Mark,” “Journeying with Luke,” and “Journeying with Matthew.” Published by Paulist Press, the books are intended to be used by families in the car on the way to Mass.)