Recently, at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, Canada (incidentally, a former seminary professor of mine) spoke about the great gift of our Catholic faith that parents can pass on to their children. He shared ten tips or suggestions for parents to share the gift of faith:
1. Be present to your children. Busy-ness makes it difficult to evangelize. Stay home; eat together; do things as a family.
2. Be joyful witnesses to the Gospel. Parents are the greatest influence. Their witness, especially the father’s, is a critical factor contributing to future practice.
3. Know your stuff. Catechesis is an activity of the Church and you must take pains to ensure that what you are passing on is truly the teaching of the Church.
4. Stick to the core message: Jesus loves you. He gave His life to save you and now lives beside you.
5. Pray with your children. Teach them how to pray, to become aware of God’s presence in their lives. Don’t wait for the perfect moment or prayer. Just do it.
5. Go to Sunday Mass together; every activity on Sunday should be planned around Sunday Mass. Frequent the sacrament of confession and show the kids that you have things to be sorry for yourself.
7. Read the Bible. Evangelization demands familiarity with God’s Word and prayer flows from intimacy with Scripture.
8. Sacramentalize your home. Children are fascinated by rosaries, crucifixes, holy water, palms, etc. Use sacramental and popular devotions as a great way to pass on the faith.
9. Share experiences of faith among family members. Create opportunities to invite children to talk about religion.
10. Form the moral conscience of children in truth and freedom to produce responsible young people with moral compasses shaped by Church teaching.