Teach the Importance of the Sacraments in Your Home
Remember, each and every sacrament places God’s very own life into our souls. Receiving the sacraments often and with reverence makes us holy. Holiness is needed in order to enter Heaven. Make sure that your children understand that in each Sacrament we come face to face with Jesus and receive His very life into our souls. God actually touches our soul and makes us holy in each sacrament. We are touched by Him and it is a life changing experience. Talk about this at dinner or speak of it at bedtime. Then receive the sacraments as a family as often as possible.
There are 7 sacraments:
1. Baptism: This is the first sacrament. This is the first time we receive God’s life into our souls. During Baptism water is poured over us. This cleanses us of Original Sin and lights our darkened souls. The water is a symbol of “New Birth.” Our old selves have died and we have risen to a new life in Christ. The priest or deacon then anoints us with holy Chrism. He makes the sign of the cross on us with this Chrism. We receive the Holy Spirit into our souls. We are permanently marked as a child of God. It is then that we enter into Covenant with God, our Father. We become His very own child. We are given a lighted candle symbolizing the “Light of Christ” that is now burning within us. Then we are clothed with a white garment. This symbolizes that we have “put on Christ” and will help to bring Him to the rest of the world.
2. Reconciliation: At the “age of reason” we are allowed to make our first Reconciliation or first confession. A child’s first experience of forgiveness comes from you. When your young child comes to you and is sorry for something he or she has done, you have the opportunity to show the child mercy and forgiveness. It is here that the child begins to understand your unconditional love. This paves the way for the child to understand God’s unconditional love as well. It is very important for children to learn to be sorry for their sins. That teaching comes from you as well. As parents we want our children to understand that certain acts are sinful. Teaching the Ten Commandments and not allowing your children to break them is one of the best things you can do for your child. We live in a world where many things are relative. Society teaches us that what is wrong for one person is not necessary wrong for someone else. This simply is not true. What is right and what is wrong is not up to us as human beings to decide. God and God alone determined and continues to determine what is right and wrong. The commandments and the beatitudes along with the teachings of the Church are our best guides. We cannot simply take a poll and publish it in the New York Times and consider what the majority feels is wrong to be wrong and what the majority feels to be right is right.
Your example is again the greatest teacher. Go and receive the sacrament of Reconciliation as a family monthly. At the bare minimum receive this sacrament every two months. Waiting any longer and you will not remember many of your sins. Children who do not see their parents go to confession get the idea that adults do not have to confess their sins. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, the sins that adults commit are far more serious than the sins of a child. By going to confession as a family monthly, you will instill a habit in your children that will continue for the rest of their lives. Children, who confess their sins often, state that they like this sacrament very much. It makes them feel very good inside. Well, no wonder! Remember, every sacrament places God’s very life inside of our souls. The Sacrament of Reconciliation gives us a special Grace that helps us to avoid sin. We simply sin less the more often we avail of this sacrament. In addition, we learn to see ourselves in humility; the way we truly are; the way that God sees us. We learn to admit that we make mistakes and that we want to do better. This type of humility makes us very, very holy. What a gift to give your children! A humility that helps them to be in a closer and deeper relationship with God our Father and Jesus Christ our Savior.
Help for Reconciliation can be found in the appendix of this book. Included is an Examination of Conscience for several ages including adults and instructions on “How to Go to Confession.”
3. Eucharist: We are a two part being—body and soul. We need spiritual food just as much as we need food for our physical bodies. Our souls are going to live forever. Think about that for a moment…Forever. Our bodies are going to live for what? 70, 80, 90 years? But our souls are going to continue to live forever. Clearly, what part of us is the more important? Yet we tend to give our body everything it desires while we tend to think very little about taking care of our soul’s needs. Give your soul what it craves. Your soul knows God and craves God. Place God into your soul. The most direct way to do this is to receive the Eucharist at Mass as often as you can. The more you do, the holier you become.
Did you know that holiness is needed in order to enter Heaven? It’s true. The Bible states: “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). “Nothing unclean (with sin) will enter Heaven” (Rev. 21:27). The Bible, God’s very Word, teaches us that we must attain a certain amount of holiness right here on earth in order to enter the heavenly Kingdom. Receiving the Eucharist often and humbly confessing your sins on a regular basis ensures that holiness. Add to this a deep prayer life; the desire to sin no more; and a commitment to do all things for the love of God, and you are well on your way to the heavenly Kingdom.
4. Confirmation: Confirmation is a sacrament that, like Baptism, can be received only once. The Sacrament of Confirmation strengthens the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we received in Baptism. It gives us spiritual muscles and it marks us as a witness so that we can go forth and witness our faith to others. Witnessing our faith can be done in many ways. The greatest way is by example. Our actions many times speak louder than our words. But it is true that we should be ready and willing to give a reason for our faith; for our hope. Catholics are especially questioned on their faith by our Protestant brothers and sisters. We possess the entire truth of the Kingdom of God. By gently explaining our faith in a loving way, you can win a soul for God. That is a great thing to be able to do.
5. Matrimony: The Sacrament of Matrimony is what most people call marriage. It is important to understand that when you married, you received a sacrament. Remember all sacraments place God’s life into your soul. The sacrament of Matrimony gives you special graces that help you during your marriage in all its trials and tribulations. God’s grace is sufficient for you. He has given you all the grace you need to make your marriage last until ‘death do you part.’ Your family was created by the love between you and your spouse. Your children thrive in this loving environment. Your loving marriage is a reflection of Jesus’ love for the Church. He is the bridegroom and the Church is His bride. Jesus gave His life for His bride. He held nothing back. Our marriages should be an imitation of this unconditional love and sacrifice.
Remember that your marriage is your vocation. There are only 4 vocations: Married Life; Single Life; Religious Life; and the Priesthood. You have chosen the vocation of ‘Married Life.’ This means that you must put your marriage first and your job second. Many of our marriages fail because our marriage is placed behind our careers. Your children need your marriage to be strong. God’s grace is sufficient for you. Place your marriage first and be willing to let your spouse have his or her way more often than you get your way. Spend quality time together. Make family your priority.
6. Anointing of the Sick: The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is not just for those who are about to die. It is a sacrament of healing. Before a major surgery and during a serious illness we can avail of this sacrament. Yes, we should be anointed when we are gravely ill, because the graces we receive from this sacrament can be of great benefit as our sins can be completely forgiven just before we die. But this sacrament can be given to us more than once. We need the strength it gives when we are sick or having surgery.
Remember that unless you tell someone that you want a priest called if you were in a serious accident, your family members may not call one. Make your wishes known. And remember that children who are in need can be anointed as well. Before an appendectomy; the removal of tonsils; or any serious illness you can ask a priest to anoint your child.
7. Holy Orders: Holy Orders is the sacrament that a man receives when he becomes a priest. Speak of this sacrament often in your homes. Remember that God has a plan for each of our lives. There is something specific that God needs each of us to do in order to build up the Kingdom of God. God may be calling one of your children into the priesthood. The best thing you can do for each of your children is to teach them to listen to and trust in the plan that God has for their lives. Explain to your children that they should pray for God to lead their lives. This is where true happiness can be found.