"Take to heart these words which I command you today. Keep repeating them to your children. Recite them when you are at home and when you are away." (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Summer vacation provides a welcome break from studies for children, but it's important to continue their education in principles of faith. As parents, we have a crucial responsibility to ensure that our children are prepared to defend and continue to practice their Catholic faith when they eventually leave home. It's a tough world out there, and your children will be attacked in many different and often very subtle ways.
Simply spending 20-30 minutes a day, a few days a week, teaching your children will reap many blessings and benefits for your family. (If you don't have children or they have moved out, consider donating some of the resources below to your parish's faith formation program.)
Don't be intimidated if your own faith foundation is a little shaky – take the opportunity to study alongside your children. I've tried many different religion programs and resources over the years, and here are a few of my favorites:
- Rent movies about the saints, Bible stories or just great family movies at www.PiusMedia.com.
- For children aged 3-12, you'll find an abundance of terrific CDs, coloring books and other resources at www.HolyHeroes.com. It's a local company, based in Cramerton, near Charlotte. Sign up for their free "Summer Faith Adventure."
- My children have always enjoyed stories of the saints, our heroes in faith. Mary Fabyatt Windeatt does an excellent job of bringing the saints to life in a way that young children (and tweens) can easily understand. Teens will appreciate books by Louis de Wohl, who also has the gift of making the saints' lives exciting and interesting.
- A family Bible study is a great project to take on this summer. If your children are very young, there is an abundance of picture Bibles available to familiarize them with the basic stories. It's tough to find anything for elementary school children with simple language that isn't too childish, but our family did like "The Bible for Young Catholics" by Anne Hefferman. I've also heard great things about Heidi Hess Saxton's "My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories." Teens can benefit from the "Prove It!" series which includes a Bible study. I also highly recommend the "Great Adventure Bible Study" which offers a study for teens called "T3:The Teen Timeline." It's available on DVD and CD and is a bit of an investment but well worth it. You can support another local company by purchasing the program at www.CatholicCompany.com, based in Charlotte.
- As parents, take some time this summer to read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, also available online. Get a copy of the terrific "YouCat" (Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church) so that your children can learn alongside you.
These are just a few resources to get you started. Try browsing your local Catholic bookstore or search online, and make this the first of many faith-filled summer vacations.
Peggy Bowes is a member of Holy Angels Church in Mount Airy and author of "The Rosary Workout."