Family matters

There is no time to live unintentionally with kids

Family matters
Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

One of the great blessings I receive as a permanent deacon is the honor and privilege of celebrating the baptism of a child.

The first baptism I celebrated was that of our granddaughter Chloe. She was around 11 months of age and a bundle of joy.

Very early in the rite is the instruction the celebrant offers to the parents: “You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so, you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?

The emphasis on the last line is my doing. When I spoke those words, I suddenly found myself thinking about how fully my wife and I understood what we were “undertaking” with the baptism of each of our six children.

Our children grow up so quickly. There is no time to live unintentionally.

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a woman about steps she and her husband have taken to train their four children in the “practice” of the faith. They celebrate:

• each child’s birthday, sharing the joys and gifts they bring to the family

• each child’s baptism, displaying pictures, their “light of Christ” represented by their candle, and their baptismal garment representing putting on Christ

• the name of their baptismal saint.

Each of these key events emphasizes the goodness and specialness of each child and lifts them up in the trying times of life.

Another practice is to pray daily with each child, asking Mary for guidance in understanding God’s call or vocation for their life. A family rosary is prayed each week. The Angelus is prayed at noon each day.

How did this family adopt all these actions? They were cradle Catholics but these “traditions” were not part of their home growing up.

This is all the result of wanting more connection throughout the week to the Mass they celebrated on Sunday.

They sought out books and blogs for ideas. These were gradually added, one at a time each Lent. Some ideas worked and were adopted. Others did not work and they moved on to other ideas.

I share with you how life-giving this is for their family and the church. The day I spoke with the mother of these boys, I was beat and tired from the flu.

Getting off the phone, I felt energized and inspired. How could Barbara and I share this with our adult children and our young grandchildren? We are all so busy. Yet, it is our duty and our honor to be the first and best formators of our children and grandchildren. This Lent, why not pick one practice (listed here or your own) and try it out?

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Deacon Tony Zimmerman

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