At “Called by Name” Fr Kyle has this really great bit of thought: “One line that sticks out to me from the Fishers of Men DVD: ‘Where the faith is important, the kids pick it up, just like they do with the language.’ Make the faith important in your lives, a priority, and it will pass down to your children, whether biological or spiritual.”
My husband and I were talking about this Saturday when we drove by the synagogue. He wondered at what age boys were supposed to start covering their heads. I really don’t know. I remember seeing Jewish families with even the youngest boys wearing yarmulke tied under their chins with ribbons. What better way to form a Jewish identity than including something so culturally indicative in a child’s early life?
My two thoughts on this almost seem contradictory. Families should include their children in faith life. It should be a living, serious, important part of their lives. They should understand from the earliest years the important truths of the faith and practice in family religious activity should be expected and not optional. The second thought is that adults should stringently avoid bringing the faith down to a child’s level. Even with the laudable idea of bringing the children to greater early understanding of the faith.
Catholic by its very nature of being universal lacks a single cultural identity. But there are things that set us apart. The liturgical calendar is one. While the rest of the western world is twirling at breakneck speed in the Christmas Rush we are (ideally) sitting around lighting Advent Candles. Lent, an amusing arcane tradition amidst our neighbors, has real impact on us. Our Sacraments and prayer life are other distinctly Catholic things. We have the right and duty to live out our lives in a way that our children can see so they become a part of the day in and day out rhythm of life.
The other thing might just be a matter of personal taste, but I dislike the “Children’s Liturgy” thing. Children do not need to be taken away from the “big” Catholic mass to experience coloring sheets and musical skits. And while instruction in the faith needs to take place at the child’s level this is something that needs to be taking place in the home and in CCD. Essential truths should never be watered down. Certainly taught to the child’s level of emotional and intellectual development, but not skirted. Children need to see the faith as something for adults that they are encouraged to learn about and participate in, but not something that anyone expects them to completely get as a child. Something they can look forward into growing into a full understanding of – something important.