This podcast is not meant to give parents yet one more thing to add to their seemingly never-ending list of things to do or to feel guilty about not having the time to do things. I raised a busy family with 4 children and I know the pressures of today’s culture – sports, arts, and all various school-related activities have taken over our lives and as parents, WE ARE TIRED. So, I don’t want to heap guilt on top of all that. Today I hope I can help you see that we don’t necessarily have to add activities in order to invite God into our homes. Yes, I’ll talk about some activities but really it’s the attitude in our home that will make the difference.
God loves us and reaches out to us. But because He loves us and because He IS love – He will never force his way into our lives. Love does not force. So, we have to invite, and we have to make room for Him. Otherwise, we can’t really be surprised if we turn around one day and we can’t see Him. He is there but we will have forgotten what He looks like. The idea is to make God a part of our everyday life. Let’s not compartmentalize our lives and leave God out of parts.
If God is truly central to our lives, then there is no compartmentalization – God is wherever we are. And whatever we are doing can and should be soaked in the goodness and presence of God.
So let’s get started.
Bringing God Home Podcast supplementary material
Catholic Classics for Kids: Public domain stories of saints and other Catholic tales for children
Catholic Sprouts: Daily Podcast for Catholic Kids | Free Listening on Podbean App
Saints Stories for Kids:
Let Us Attend: The Gospel is paraphrased for younger children and read for older children, followed by engaging questions to help us think about what we’ve heard.
Readings from Under the Grapevine: Inspirational Stories for Children of All Ages
Simplified, contemporary version of the morning prayer by Blessed Klementii Sheptytsky
This makes a great morning car prayer.
O Lord, grant me the spiritual peace all this day will bring to me.
Grant that I may wholeheartedly submit myself to your will.
Whatever news I receive today teach me to accept it with a peaceful soul and a firm conviction, that your Holy Will guides all things.
In all my words and deeds, guide my thoughts and actions.
Teach me to deal with all people in a simple and wise manner without offending or saddening anyone.
O Lord, give me the strength to endure all the weariness and all the situations of this day.
Guide my will and teach me to pray, believe, hope, endure, forgive and love
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Heavenly King, Advocate (Comforter),
Spirit of Truth,
Who are everywhere present and fill all
Treasury of Blessings,
Bestower of Life,
Come and dwell within us; cleanse us of
all that defiles us, and,
O Good One, save our souls.
Prayer Before a Meal
Bless us, O Lord and these thy gifts
which we are about to receive
from thy bounty
through Christ, our Lord
Fun ideas to celebrate the feasts of the liturgical year with your family:
Find various prayers and learn how to make an icon corner:
1. Pray, pray pray!!!!
If we want a guest in our home to feel welcome there, we would certainly not ignore them at our house but talk to them like crazy when we go to their place. Sometimes that’s what happens with God – no conversation all week – just Sunday when we get to church.
If you only take one thing from this entire podcast, take this – increase your own prayer life, increase your family prayer life, this includes, parents, spouses and children.
At the very least in our homes and families, we should be praying in the morning, before meals and at night.
Before meals – We need to acknowledge that it is truly a blessing to have food on the table. Many people don’t have this same luxury. We thank God for what we are about to receive, and we ask God to bless it. This brings God and his goodness right in front of our eyes. It brings a sense of gratefulness to our hearts. It elevates the meal – now it becomes a gift from God rather than just a quick meal that we swallow and move on.
In the morning – thank God for the night, invite Him into your day, ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with wisdom in all your dealings. How can we do this? We are flying out the door. People are scrambling….. Is there a moment that you have together? Think outside the box and “pray as you go” – after breakfast, while getting dressed, brushing your child’s hair etc. Find a short, easily memorizable prayer or simply use your own words.
Try a car prayer if you drive your children to the bus stop or to school. We will have some examples of morning prayers or ask each person to lead it each morning – start by thanking God, recognizing His love and gifts, and then move on to your prayer requests for the day.
At lunch pray before you eat. If you are not with your children, send a prayer note or tape a prayer to the inside of their lunch box for example: “Thank you for the morning, thank you for the food, Dear God bless this food.” Remind them that you love them and so does God!
At night – as they get tucked into bed, talk about the day. Think about the good things in the day and thank God for those. Think about the things in the day that did not go so well. Discuss why didn’t they go well. Ask God for help with those things.
Perhaps someone was mean to you. Pray for that person. This is very important. Prayer is the most powerful thing we can do. Forgiveness begins here. When we pray for those that have hurt us – it softens our heart. Most of the time when people are mean, they are hurting in some way. Pray for bullies. We had that situation when my youngest son was being bullied on the bus ride home. We would pray for that child and then talk about what should be done.
When we have difficult situations that come up it is really important to remind our children (and ourselves) to PRAY FIRST then act. Be an example. If you had a difficult situation during the day, you can add your prayers too. Show your children that even as an adult you need to turn to God every day.
Perhaps you did something that you shouldn’t have – pray for God’s help to rectify the situation. Remember God loves us and always wants to help us. He doesn’t sit there waiting for us to do something wrong so he can punish us. He waits for us to admit when we have turned away from him so that when we turn back, He can embrace us and welcome us with a big beautiful hug.
Use technology to pray. It is best to choose a certain time of the day or week – maybe every week when you are driving to dancing or hockey. (You will notice that I like to fit a lot of things into driving time – I raised 4 busy kids. I know what it’s like – we spent a lot of time in the car. You might as well use that time for something good!) Anyway, if you have a set time then the kids expect it and hopefully begin to enjoy it – it becomes the thing that you do at a certain time – some examples of what you could do are: play the Jesus prayer – or the rosary – or listen to bible stories (remember prayer is a conversation – in the bible we listen to God speak)
There are some good podcasts for kids. You can listen to those each week or day even. We will list some of them for you in the podcast notes.
So, I said that the very least we should pray is in the morning, evening, and before meals…so when else should we encourage our children to pray? – ALWAYS!!!!
St. Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians said “pray without ceasing.” Oh my gosh! How on earth are we supposed to do that?! We have soccer and dancing and hockey and then a concert and the list goes on…..!
Prayer is a conversation with God. We talk to each other all day even in the midst of all these commitments! All we need to do is invite God into those situations. Remind your children to pray during the day. Remind yourself to do the same – whether at work or at home.
e.g. Got a test today? – pray a quick prayer – come Holy Spirit. Give me peace and wisdom.
Got a difficult situation – pray – Holy Spirit, guide my words, give me patience.
Had fun doing a project in school or playing at recess – Thanks for that Lord! That was fun!
See someone that is poor while you are driving – pray together – “Dear Lord Bless that person” Then talk about an action that you might take as a family to help the poor.(then actually act on it later)
Hear an ambulance, fire truck or police car? – cross yourself and pray “Dear Lord, be with those people in that situation, give them comfort and strength”
Spontaneous prayer – for example when you see something beautiful – a tree, a bird, a sunset – give God credit. Acknowledge that He created it. Wow! Thank you Lord!
2. ACKNOWLEDGE GOD!
That brings me to the next important way that we can bring God home – Acknowledge His presence in everything we do, everything we have, everything that IS. We have the beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit – Heavenly King. Which we will share as well. I really like to focus on the line that reminds us that the Holy Spirit is “everywhere present and filling all things” Talk about that fact with your children.
If you as a parent can really arouse the sense of wonder for God’s creation – from the most majestic mountain to the tiniest ant – in your children, then you are doing them a great service! I think we have all experienced those moments when we see the beauty of creation and it strikes our heart. – I remember seeing the mountains for the first time. I was twelve years old, and it literally took my breath away.
It’s in those moments that we just want to sit and contemplate it. This is us “seeing” God. God is revealed in all this beauty but only a teeny tiny bit – just imagine the fullness of the beauty of God! It has to be totally indescribable.
I think this is why spending time in nature is so calming – so life giving – we are contemplating God. Give your kids that opportunity.
I always say – There is nothing more beautiful than that which has been created by God. Just try to think about anything that takes your breath away, that God has not created. You can’t do it.
In our house we love watching nature shows – its almost a sacred activity – especially if you realize who the Creator is of the most amazing creatures and nature on our planet. So, as you watch shows about nature with your children, remember to acknowledge the mystery and grandness of God’s wisdom in creating it all and let your children see your own wonder at this. Our God is an awesome God!
3. Make room for God.
Do people know that you are Christian when they enter your home? Do you have an icon corner or a special spot for praying? Do you have a cross or other items that show you are Christian? You can check out our website for how to make an icon corner. We will include a link for a quick introduction. It can be a spot anywhere in your home – you can also set up one in your children’s and your own bedrooms. Showing others that you are Christian is not the only reason I recommend having a special spot for prayer though. Its really important for children (and us) to have a spot for dedicated prayer. God doesn’t need that space – we do. It can help us focus, it can be a source of comfort to sit there in God’s presence, it can serve as a reminder to pray and to trust God – as we rush past it in our busyness. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it is highly recommended to have something.
4. Celebrate Feast Days.
Feast days aren’t some weird faraway thing that the Church does. the Liturgical year is really a spectacular tool to help us families to continually invite God into our homes. They bring us back (sometime from the brink of forgetting about God in our busy lives) by presenting us with special days – like Jesus’ birthday, and his mother’s birthday, the baptism of Jesus and the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. Each of these days give us some teaching about God and some reminder of how important our relationship is with God.
We have packages of printed icons that can be purchased for each of the major feast days of the year with a few extra icons as well. You can get a simple frame and then exchange the icons in the frame and put them in an icon corner or a prominent place in your home. Pray a prayer in front of the icon and talk a little about the meaning of the day.
On our Eparchy website we have a lot of ideas for ways that you can celebrate the feast days at home with your family. These are simple fun activities and crafts that will really make it salient for kids by focussing on things about the feast that they can understand – for example – on the feast of Pentecost you can play with bubbles – watching them float in the air and talk about how we know that the wind is carrying the bubbles even though we don’t see it. Even though we don’t see the Holy Spirit we know that He exists by the things like goodness, love, peace, joy and courage that we feel. So, check out these kinds of simple things that can make impressions on our children.
We will have the link to access those activities at the end of the podcast.
5. Celebrate Name Days.
Related to celebrating the feast days of the liturgical year is the celebration of each member of the family’s name day. A name day is the feast day of a saint after whom someone is named.
A few things come in to play here. It is encouraged that children have the name of a saint. But sometimes we just like certain names and want to use those when naming our children. So maybe you could choose the name of a saint for their second or even third name.
But what if you or your children don’t have saints’ names – don’t fret! This can actually provide an opportunity for learning. Together you can pick your saint. Look up some saints – we have a variety of books on saints for children that can be borrowed or just google saints’ names, or saints for kids – you can find all kinds of videos and articles. Pick someone that you and your child find interesting and admirable that you are drawn to. That can be your/their “Patron Saint.” Then find out when their feast day is and celebrate it!
For those who already have a saint’s name, it would be really good if you could learn about the saint and teach your child – again make use of google or our resources at the Eparchial Resource Centre. The other really good thing to do is to get a small icon of their saint for them to keep in their room.
The name day celebration doesn’t have to be a big celebration – just a trip to get ice cream or a special fun family night. Pray a special prayer to that saint.
We are working on getting a list of the feast days of the saints posted on our eparchy website. When that comes out you can look them up. Mark them down on your calendar – pop them in your phones.
We celebrate birthdays with enthusiasm. Let’s do the same for our name days! As your children get older, even into adulthood, keep it a special day. Send a text, make a phone call, say a special prayer for your child on that day and maybe invite them for a meal. And we never get too old for ice cream….
When we review all of these suggestions – I think that you should have all picked up that as a parent you must start with yourself. This is the big one. You cannot give what you don’t have. You can’t fake this.
Your example is the most important thing in the work of developing faith in your children. We all know children learn more from what we do than what we say. When they see your example – your reliance on God, your gratefulness to God, your praise of God and the special place that God holds in your life, this is what will speak to them.
Not only is it important in your vocation as a parent, it is also critical for your own faith and salvation. The more that you invite God in, the more that the Holy Spirit can speak through you to your children. Then you finally get to a point where you realize that you are not raising these children on your own. You are the caregiver guided by the Holy Spirit. They belong to God.
So that means you have to make a concerted effort to pray, to be aware of God everywhere, to consult with God in everything, to celebrate what God has given you and to tell others and especially the little saints in your care about His abiding and perfect love.
I want to clarify…
Being a parent raising faith filled children does not mean you have to be perfect – a saint….quite the opposite. It means you need to show your kids that you aren’t perfect – you aren’t a saint, but that you have complete trust and reliance on God to help you grow towards sainthood. You do this by inviting Him into your Home and heart each and every day.