-- Arrange a time for the whole family to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Confession is one of the greatest gifts Catholics have, and its healing grace is beneficial to young and old alike. Recent studies on the practice of the faith clearly show that children and teenagers are likely to follow the example of their parents. When parents go to confession, they reinforce the value and gift of the sacrament for their children.
-- Seize the moment. Long car rides, beach days, and lazy summer afternoons offer opportunities to talk about faith and life with your children. Try to have a few minutes of "un-plugged" time in the car -- no radio, cell phones, hand held games, or MP3 players. It may be hard at first, but try small intervals of quiet, and see where the conversation leads. Take the moments as they come and be open to letting your children ask questions. If you don't know the answer, ask your priest or consult the "Catechism of the Catholic Church," which is available online. The United States Catholic Bishops website (www.usccb.org
) is also a great resource for greater insight into faith questions. You may not know all of the answers, but what matters is that you take faith questions seriously.
-- Do something different! Have you wanted to go on a family retreat? Is this the summer when you will have a day to give to a community service project? Is there an elderly family member who always hopes you will visit with the children? This can be the summer you start an important family tradition that will inspire greater love within your family as well as cultivate a deeper commitment to our Catholic faith.
Susan Abbott directs the Archdiocese of Boston's office of religious education, one of 50 ministries supported by the annual Catholic Appeal.