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Do You Know Your Faith?
By Susan Hines-Brigger

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Every evening, my two oldest kids take turns saying a prayer before we eat dinner. Six-yearold Alex tends toward short and sweet, while Maddie, who is 10, prefers more traditional prayers. Usually, thatís fine. But sometimes it can present a challenge.

ďMom, how does the Memorare begin?Ē Maddie asked before a recent dinner. She had mentioned her class was learning it in school, but I thought Iíd have some time to reacquaint myself with the prayer before I was put on the spot.

I quickly shot my husband, Mark, a panicked look, hoping he would remember the opening lines of this long-ago-learned prayer. By the look on his face, I could tell he was as stumped as I was.

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Reality Check

I wish I could say scenarios like this one donít happen often in our home. Unfortunately, they do.

But I also bet that weíre not alone. In fact, judging from the frenzied discussions among parents about what to do at our daughterís First Reconciliation a few years ago, I know Mark and I are not alone. In fact, I imagine that if you asked a handful of Catholics to name the Beatitudes, 10 Commandments or the works of mercy (which, by the way, you can find in my September 2008 column), you might trip a few people up.

Itís also not just my kids who have questions about the Catholic faith that I canít always answer. My sister-in-law who is not Catholic often has questions about certain Catholic traditions, practices and beliefs.

What Iím reminded of every time one of these questions comes up, though, is that my faith journey is an ongoing one. As with most things in life, it needs to be nurtured. In short, if you donít use it, youíll lose it.

Your faith is also an ever-changing and fluid part of your life. The reality is that there are times when certain aspects of your faith are going to be more present to you than others. But that doesnít mean you can just forget about the other things. At some point you might need them, for example, such as when your child or grandchild starts asking questions.

For the sake of keeping our faith alive and growing, here are some activities that you and your family can try:

Take the opportunity. If you run into a question that you canít answer, view it as a chance to learn or relearn something about your faith.

Be the student. There have been many times when my kids have come home from school or religious-education class and shared some interesting bit of information about the Catholic faith that they learned. Sometimes itís something I already knew, but other times itís something I may have forgotten or didnít know at all. Listen to what your kids have to say and ask them some questions. If they donít know the answer, suggest that you find it together.

Take it further. If a question comes up about a faith issue, donít just answer the question and then let it go. Dig a little deeper on the subject. For instance, when Maddie asked about the opening lines of the Memorare, I went and pulled out a prayer book to help answer her question, and then Maddie told us what she had learned about the prayer at school. We also talked about how there are different versions of prayers. (Iíve discovered that the version of a prayer I learned is not always the same as what my kids are learning.)

Oh, and for the record, I did remember the rest of the Memorare after a few seconds. But Iím sure I wonít be in danger of forgetting it for a while. Maddie has made it a part of our mealtime prayer rotation.

 

Does your family like to play games? If so, make your own version of a trivia game related to the Catholic faith. Have everyone in the family try to come up with five questions and answers about your faith, such as ďWhere did Moses receive the 10 Commandments?,Ē ďWhich pope convened Vatican II?Ē or ďWhat are the Eight Beatitudes?Ē Then over time, or as you learn new things in school, for instance, you can add questions.

Before or after dinner some night, take turns asking each other the questions. The rules of the game are up to the family. Maybe each correct answer gets five points and the person or team with the most points at the end gets to choose what to have for dinner the next night. Or the winner gets out of doing a chore. The important thing is to have fun and learn more about your faith.

 

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at “Faith-filled Family,” 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to Family@franciscanmedia.org.


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