Being a parent isn’t always easy, especially when it comes to sharing the faith or literally learning anything at home. The biggest concern is that parents aren’t sure what to know about their faith as well as where to begin in sharing the faith at home.
Begin with the basics.
Sometimes the most simple methods are the best. Begin by reading scripture with your children. It doesn't matter how young or old they are. Reading scripture doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be a ‘perfect gathering’. Even just the mere reverence for Scripture as well as the work of the Word of God in the soul through the Holy Spirit is a lot! Stick to the Gospels at first and then visit the Acts of the Apostles and other parts of the New Testament before visiting Genesis and Exodus. It’s easy to remember that the heart of the Sacred Scriptures is the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John), everything in the Bible relates to Christ in some way. The last tip on the basics of reading scripture together is that it should ALWAYS be accompanied by prayer. An easy example would be to begin with the sign of the cross, read the reading, and close with a simple improvised prayer based on the reading. The thing is, take your time, relax, even if you have a crowd of children which are acting like ferrets. Young people learn best by your example, and it takes more then once to be, “an example”.
I’ve read the Bible, but what does it mean?
We all know that people can interpret Holy Scripture, indeed anything, in a thousand different ways. At 70 AD the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans and the last of the Twelve Apostles had died. This set the stage for the next generation of disciples, particularly early bishops and Church fathers to record what happened in the life of Christ. Even at this time there was a solid form of Catechesis (or teaching of the faith). One example, the Apostle St. John passed on the Apostles Creed to Polycarp who in turn taught St. Irenaeus who recorded it in his letters and writings. Fascinating enough his letter was preserved as he wrote to a Deacon in the Church asking how he should teach the Christian faith. This creed made for an easy oral way to teach the teachings of Christ before Sacred Scripture was written. In ancient times they would say the Creed, and then unpack it’s meaning in an oral question and answer format. This method is still in use today. Just open up the Catechism of the Catholic Church and there it is, the Creed which is unpacked for you already! It is essential to know what not only the original Biblical authors thought and taught, but even more so, what the Apostles thought and taught. It was the Apostles teachings that came straight from lived experience with and teachings from Christ. Besides it was by the Apostles experience and account that the Gospels were later written.
Where did the Catechism come from?
In a little bit of a twist from history, the first Catechism was actually made by Martin Luther who although held true to the first and second articles of the Apostles Creed, made innovations in the third article. It was in response to this catechism as well as other major problems in the Church that at the Council of Trent which began in 1545 among other actions commissioned a Roman Catechism. This new catechism used the Apostles Creed and was modeled after the ancient question and answer oral tradition to unpack the contents of the Apostles Creed. St. Charles Borromeo produced this work, published in 1566 and was known generally as “the Roman Catechism”. This catechism would serve as a model for all others to come after. Our modern catechism called The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a fruit of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). It was at the Second Vatican Council at the request of Pope St. John XXIII that a new Catechism be made using St. Robert Bellarmine's catechism as a model. It wasn't until after the council that our modern Catechism was completed, being published in 1992.
So now, what do I do?
As a parent these are some of the first steps to prepare yourself to share the Bible with your family, and begin the practice of a daily scripture in the evening.
This post has been prepared with help from Msgr. Kevane's Catechetical Documents of the 20th Century
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since 2011.