One important way that we help foster the faith of others is through prayer. The practice of praying with and for other people is so important. Celebrating Sunday Eucharist each week and praying at home helps us to be formed by the Word of God, and be nourished by the Bread of Life in ways that enable us to grow as a community of faith. I encourage all parishioners, especially parents, to recognize the importance of giving thanks to God each week at the Sunday Eucharist. I likewise encourage you to pray together at home during the week. We need to continually work at developing environments of prayer in our homes if we are to be formed by the Gospel message. As families and households I encourage you to pray each day asking God to bless you, with peace, understanding, guidance, joy and mercy.
I also encourage all parents to take an active role in your children’s religious education and spiritual development. You can do so by helping them learn their prayers, by talking to them about the Sunday scripture readings and sharing with them how your faith has helped you to grow. You could also do a service or outreach project together as a family to help teach the importance of serving others. Always remember that the example that you set for your children will teach them the most.
Our willingness as adults to continue to enrich our spiritual life through ongoing faith formation sets the proper tone and example for our young people. I have heard young people say why should I go to church? Why should I go to religious education? Why should I be active in church activities? My parents aren’t. We cannot expect our young people to have the desire to be formed by the gospel message if we as adults are unwilling to continue to participate fully in the life of the church ourselves. Full participation in the life of the church entails regularly celebrating Sunday Eucharist, prayer in our homes, a willingness to continue to learn more about our faith and God ‘s love for us, and our commitment to service of others by working for justice and peace.
As a church we have seen in recent events the damage that is caused to the faithful when hypocritical and sinful actions are committed by those in authority, who are meant to be the shepherds of the flock. But each of us has a responsibility to one another to be the best examples of Christian charity and service, modeling our lives after Jesus, the one who is our Good Shepherd. You who are parents are the authority in your children’s lives, and are their primary educators in the ways of the faith. Your children will learn by your example. Give them a good one!
May all of us help each other to be people of prayer, service and charity who faithfully follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, day by day.
God bless you, Father Bill