Cathy Burke from Palmerstown Parish in Dublin has written a piece for parents/guardians in their preparation of their children for the Sacraments.
The family is the most important place in which each one grows to know God and to live in faith. Parents are the primary and most important educators of children as they grow in relationship with God together on the journey of initiation. The preparation for First Holy Communion begins from the day of Baptism in the home and in the parish. This will be continued by the input from the parish school from the first day of Primary One. It is about growing in relationship with God and one another. Growing in relationship is dependent of God relating to us and on us relating to God. The choice to enter into this relationship is invitational.
How parents may assist in their child’s growth in relationship with God.
By loving one another.
Daily prayer with God.
Encouraging children to notice the beauty of God’s created world – plenty of walks or cycle rides during lockdown has made this easy.
Give gratitude to God and to one another for all that is received in daily life.
Accepting each one as lovable, loving, precious and unique.
Enabling children to acknowledge wrongs, to say sorry and to forgive. Accepting failure as part of the human condition, using it as a steppingstone to growth.
Joining the parish community at Sunday Mass – mostly done online during the past year – and other gatherings.
Becoming involved in the parish community.
Contribution of one’s own gifts and ideas to the parish community. Chatting about the lessons in the Grow in Love religious education programme in school.
Instilling a belief that God has provided us with all the gifts that are needed to deal with the experiences and challenges of life.
Praying with your child or as family.
There are as many ways of praying as there are people on the earth! Experience of different ways of praying are necessary in order for us to find ways of relating with God that enable us to feel connected.
Some of the following suggestions may be helpful for your family:
Saying common prayers together: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be …, Morning and Evening Prayer …,
Speaking prayers from the heart — perhaps giving thanks to God for each member of the family, thanking God for the gifts of the day, asking God for help, telling God what we will do tomorrow to make it a better day.
Meditation/quiet reflection — closing eyes for a few minutes just to be in God’s company.
Blessing your young baby by making the sign of the cross on their forehead.
Reading Bible stories as part of story time.
Singing hymns together.
Saying a decade of the rosary together each night.
Participating in Mass as a family.
Discussing pictures of Bible stories and colouring them in.
Writing a poem to God.
Lighting a candle on the table for Sunday dinner as a sign that we have shared the good news of God’s love for us during the week.
Lighting a candle for a particular intention.