Do We Need “Stuff” for Faith?

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I’ve really enjoyed pondering the ways in which I share my faith with my children and how being a parent enriches my faith so far in the Faith of Our Children series, but this final topic threw me for a loop.

We’re supposed to write about the tools we use to build our children’s faith, things like prayer journals, children’s Bibles, and the like.

Uh.

Um.

And there I sit.

Thinking.

First, my kids are only six and three, so they aren’t writing much yet.

Second, we don’t homeschool, so formal faith formation isn’t all that formal, at least not at home.

Third, 95% of all our “stuff” of any kind is in a 10×20′ storage unit right now, so we definitely aren’t currently using anything to enhance our kids’ faith, not even their big wooden Rosary beads that they both received at their Baptisms.

My question, then, is do we need things to teach the faith?

As an teacher and a Catholic, certainly I understand the value of hands-on learning.

In education we use “manipulatives” to help kids understand concepts and learn by doing, and in the Church we have our “sacramentals,” quite literally tangible holy items.

They have their place in the passing on of the faith, and you know I appreciate the traditions of the Church as I teach my kids about God. But I guess my new favorite tool for raising up little Christians is not a thing at all, just a habit:

A Conversation to Teach the Faith

I’ve started asking my son a new question at the end of the school day, and it’s changed the way I go about my day too. Instead of, “How was your day?” or “What did you do today?” I ask, “What did God say to you today?”

As the mom, I have to have an answer too, to help my 6-year-old have an example of how to listen to the voice of God in the course of daily living. It’s not always easy, and it makes me have a new awareness of the presence of God throughout the day in my own life.

Now my prayer is that I can remember to keep the habit up so that listening to God becomes second nature for my kids.

Maybe I need some”thing” to remind me…  ;)

Special Holidays

When the Church year provides us with special seasons to celebrate, we do have a couple “things” that have been really cool to integrate into our nighttime prayer routine with the kids:

You can find all the Faith of our Children posts here.

Read More from the Team

The other ladies on the Faith of our Children team have spectacular ideas for your holy library too:

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16 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    I agree – conversation is the best teaching tool. My daughter is going to be six next week (!!) and she has a lot of great questions about God and faith. I pretty much let her take the lead on what she wants to learn, and that has worked well for us so far. My favorite question was if God talks to the dogs like he talks to us. LOL :)

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  2. says

    I don’t think we totally “need” more stuff for faith…but…if we have all sorts of stuff (games, hobby items, decoration, toys, etc.) in our homes, but NOT stuff for faith, I think it does send a message to our children about where our priorities lie. I’m not saying this should be taken to the point of a mathematical equation…but…if you can’t immediately tell what your faith is when you walk into your living space, but you can tell that you are very interested in (fill in the blank interest here), then maybe some thought needs to given to whether that aught to be corrected.

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  3. says

    I love your question “what did God say to you today…and that you ask yourself and your son that everyday.

    I just couldn’t resist…
    Not that we really need alot of stuff to teach our Catholic Traditions and Faith, but my little Catholic family apostolate (Arma Dei) just happens to make some of those things. Please check out our site…particularly our books: A Treasure Chest of Traditions for Catholic Families and Hand in hand with Jesus. I think you might like them! http://www.equippingcatholicfamilies.com/p/products-books.html

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    Katie Reply:

    Thanks, Monica!

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  4. Kathryn via Facebook says

    Faith is not built on “stuff” – faith is built upon seeing and hearing Mom and Dad talk about it and live it daily. It is praising God and thanking Him when he answers prayers – even those little ones.

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  5. says

    Church seasons can be helpful formation tools. For Advent, we put up a creche that is big enough to take the place of the Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, baby Jesus appears in the manger. Near Epiphany, the shepherds are replaced with the Wise Men. The Advent creche goes up just before Advent begins and stays until after Epiphany. We are considering something similar for Lent and Easter, but that is still in the works. I am leaning toward using the Pieta during Holy Week.

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  6. says

    I think it depends much less on the “stuff” we have around, and more on the time and attitude we have regarding Religion. We decided when we had kids that a nightly rosary and daily Mass would be part of our family routine, so that our kids would see our own devotion daily and hopefully learn by the example. As for books, stuff, etc… they all get a big rosary on their first birthday, and I’m going through the Baltimore Catechism with them as part of school. We also make a point to use and teach about devotionals like scapulars, miraculous medals, the saints etc. There is a great series of books (St. Joseph Series) that has childrens books on everything from Mass to the Saints, to Gospel writers, etc.

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  7. Sandy says

    I’m a childless Protestant, but for what it’s worth . . . my grandmother or someone gave me a large-print “Bible Story Book,” which was probably a big encouragement to reading the actual Bible. (I was reading in the sixth-grade section of the school library by the time I was in 1st or 2nd grade, so I probably outgrew it pretty quickly – start a kid with something like that EARLY!)
    Your Easter calendar sounds like a good idea. Honestly, I’m horrified by a lot of the kitsch sold in “Christian” bookstores (not to mention some of the BOOKS. I mean, Deepak Chopra? as an aid to Christian education? But I digress . . . I do that a lot . . . ). If you don’t have a good background of learning from which to teach your children, there are probably “learning aids” which would be helpful, but check them out very carefully yourself, first.

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