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November 02, 2011
Family Prayer
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

In this issue, we tackle the topic of family prayer. While we can offer the best catechesis in the world, prayer is one practice that children (and adults) learn by doing. Join us as we talk about the nuts and bolts of good family prayer.

FOR SHARING AND DISCUSSION: Share your ideas and questions on our Faith Formation Forum.
What is your practice of family prayer?
Share an idea for encouraging prayer in the families of your students.

Keeping It Real
You can’t fake prayer. You especially cannot fake praying with children. They seem to know if your heart is in it or you’re just going through the motions. As key adults in the lives of children, we need to begin our efforts to teach children to pray by praying ourselves. As catechists and family members, we each need to have a strong conversational relationship with the Divine One. When our own children and the children we teach see that we’re actually speaking with God in a personal way, they’ll begin to understand the amazing dynamic of divine conversation.

Many of us have only experienced formal prayer. We can recite a prayer we memorized in our youth. We may feel very uncomfortable, however, with spontaneous and extemporaneous prayer. Finally, there is the ritual prayer of the Church which is not so much about words as it is about signs, symbols and actions. All of these prayer forms are required in the guided course of study. So catechists, get on your knees, roll up your sleeves and dive into the conversation. God is waiting to have a long talk with you.
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Prayer of Scripture and Ritual
A great way to prime the prayer pump is to find prayer resources that guide us into a ritual or prayer time that suits our need. I heartily recommend the prayer services in Every Day Catholic. Each month there’s a simple and easy-to-use prayer service, ready-made for your home or classroom. These prayer services are always based on the topic of the month’s issue and can easily be adapted to the spirit of any classroom or household. I always carry a copy of Every Day Catholic in my briefcase, ready to pull out when someone says, “Would you lead us in prayer?”
Take advantage of this limited-time offer to give your families a new prayer resource for Advent AND Every Day Catholic. From now until November 18, 2011, parishes that purchase 50 or more subscriptions to Every Day Catholic will receive their choice of an equal number of Rediscover Advent by Matthew Kelly or Advent With the Saints by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. Call (800-488-0488), fax (513-241-1197) or e-mail ( your order with promotion code G111 to take advantage of this generous offer.
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Practice Makes Perfect

When parents bring their child to the Church to be baptized, I trust their sincerity when they respond “We do” to the statement and question: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?” (Rite of Baptism for Children).
While sincere, many parents don’t know where to start helping their child “practice” the faith. They likely associate Mass attendance and catechesis as the child reaches school age, but some may not realize the importance of what happens in the home, in the family setting. This can be as simple as tracing the Sign of the Cross on the child’s forehead upon waking, at bedtime and at each good-bye. Prayer at meals and bedtime are common and simple practices to encourage as well.

Use the occasion of a child’s Baptism to give parents support in their important role. Place several copies of Faith and Family Life in your parish lending library or, better yet, purchase a copy for every couple who presents their child for Baptism. This DVD product contains six programs:
      How to Raise Your Child With Faith
      How to Raise Your Child With Faith as a Single Parent
      Raising a Faith-filled Child in a Consumer Society
      How to Pray as a Family (view sample clip Windows Media)
      Preparing Your Child for First Eucharist
      Preparing Your Child for Reconciliation

Parents are “the first teachers of their child in the ways of faith. May they be also the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what they say and do, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen” (Rite of Baptism for Children).

If you are interested in purchasing copies of Faith and Family Life, the regular price is $29.95. For the month of November only, if you purchase 5 copies or more, they are $19.99 each. Use promotion code FFU11 when you place your order. You can shop online at

Franciscan Radio
Praying With Sunday Scripture
What better way for parents to teach their children about the Catholic faith than to study it regularly? What better way to teach children to pray than to pray with them? It’s difficult to talk to your kids about your faith if you don’t know it yourself.

Bringing Home the Word is a Lectionary-based resource that can help your parish families reflect on the Sunday readings as well as other aspects of our Catholic faith. Each week, the main article relates the Sunday Gospel to our lives today. Sunday Best discusses some aspect of our Catholic identity, while The Home Church offers a faith-filled reflection and activity for families. The Prayer can be used as a blessing before Sunday dinner or at bedtime. The Reflection Questions can be great dinnertime discussion starters, too.

The best part is that, not only can you print as many of these as you need, you also have permission to print or post online bits and pieces of each issue—making it easy to deliver inspiration and education all week long.*

Click here to see a sample issue. Feel free to use this in your parish on December 4.*

*For electronic uses, please give credit by linking to our Web site: For print uses, simply reference Bringing Home the Word with the issue date (for the sample provided—Bringing Home the Word, December 4, 2011).
Preview full text of the latest issue and past issues!
Preview full text of the latest issue and past issues!
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Faith Formation Forum

Share your ideas on faith formation at our online bulletin board, Faith Formation Forum. Our editors will screen and post your thoughts, and you can learn from others' ideas. Submit your ideas by clicking here.