The Importance of Maintaining Catholic Family Traditions
Religious family traditions have a long and venerable history. As far back as early Biblical times there is evidence concerning family life in ancient Israel which reflects God's desire that we should strengthen our families with religious customs. When the Israelites left Egypt and settled in the Promised Land, God commanded their families to hold special observances in their homes so that they would remember what He had done for them. Examples are the annual Passover celebration (Exodus 12: 1-20) and the weekly Sabbath observance (Exodus 20: 8-11).
The Catholic Church has accumulated many family traditions centred in the home. You will be able to read about them in other pages of this website.
Catholic spirituality in the home provides a common foundation for family members to discover the meaning and purpose of life. God made us, as the Catechism tells us, "to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him for ever in the next." Families are the means which God has provided for children to come into the world, be baptised and be nurtured in the true Faith, and helped to grow in faith, hope and charity.
It is in the family that the practice of faith is impressed upon young people and where attitudes toward life are formed. Parents, then, should recognize the need to teach their children to make choices grounded in Gospel values.
Families are the also primary source of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.
Some helpful things for parents to ponder:
* Practice of your own faith provides a much-needed alternative to negative influences of modern culture.
* Let the way you live your married life model the value of Christian commitment.
* Never forget that your children are a gift from God.
* Pray with your children and take them with you regularly to Church.
* The practice and celebration of religious customs and practices is a powerful way to experience the truths of our Catholic Faith. Grounded in our long faith-tradition (the Catholic Church is by far the world's oldest institution), they help us celebrate our beliefs and preserve our Catholic identity.
* When teaching young children about religious symbols and traditional prayers, teachers and parents are giving children a connection between the childís religious expression and that of the adultís.
* What may be simply a childish awareness at age 3 becomes a full understanding as an adult. What they learn as young children is built up at a subconscious level, and can be drawn from as they get older.
* In a similar vein, rituals and prayers learned as children can be comforting in times of grief or stress as adults.
* By teaching children our customs and traditions, new generations will continue to experience and embrace their Catholic Faith.