My mom always recalled our birth-stories on our birthdays and we do the same for our children now. I am glad that hospitals allow dads in the delivery room, so the eyewitness account we render to our children about their birth is more accurate and can be recounted by both of us. From the first contractions, to the weather that day, to the drive to the hospital, to medical people who attended to us and procedures done, we recall and share with our children the special moments that made each birth-day memorable – especially when we saw each one for the first time. My husband, our child and I were all the main characters of the event that day and on each birthday, we make present once more that special event in our lives and the life of our family. Then we celebrate!
Let Us Celebrate
To celebrate is not just to remember a significant event in the past, for sure – remembrance is central to a celebration; to celebrate engages the whole person: mind, body, heart, and spirit. We eat cake and ice cream, we sing, we give gifts, we play games, we invite friends, we dance, we take pictures, we reminisce and we pray – all to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. In making present a significant event in the past, we mark it by making a break from our ordinary routines and engage our whole person, usually with others in a gathering – to celebrate. It’s a community affair.
Seasons of the Church Year
This is what the Church does in living its seasons around the liturgical calendar. The Church makes present to us the significant events of Jesus’ life as great feasts: Christmas – the birth of our Savior, Easter – His resurrection from the dead, and Pentecost – the birth of the Church, the body of Christ, as the Holy Spirit enlivened it by tongues of fire. Seasons of preparation: Advent – preparing for Christmas, and Lent – preparing for Easter call us to attend to our hearts to be open to deeper conversion to Christ. Ordinary time is the season between the feasts and they are punctuated by solemnities, holy days and feast days. For the Church, these are all times of great celebration! As disciples of Jesus, we are called to celebrate – to engage our whole person because our mind, body, heart, and spirit participate in joy.
Bring It Home
Parents can make present at home the seasons of the Church calendar to help our family experience in an immediate manner the learning about Jesus’ life and to more fully participate in the life of the Church. The rhythm of the life of our family mirrors the rhythm of the life of the Church. Home decorations, family traditions, a Catholic culture at home all contribute to make present and make alive the Faith to our children.
- Be intentional – integrate the liturgical seasons in your family calendar of celebrations.
- Bring attention to the Church decorations and colors at each liturgical season and celebration at your parish.
- Keep a Celebration Notebook – includes celebrations your family does throughout the year, a record of family traditions, family activities, menus, special recipes, books to read to the children, etc. so that every year a family identity becomes more and more established.
- Be explicit about the spiritual and faith aspect of the celebrations – make these teaching moments about our Catholic Faith so that the Faith is not separate but integrated into our lives .
- Prayer – integrate the relationship with God by praying on family celebrations. Include prayers that reflect the liturgical season or celebration in family prayers.
Making disciples of our children is very much about familiarizing them with Jesus, His life and the life of the Church as much as it is fostering a personal relationship with Him. Every year, the children eagerly listen to their birth-story and their siblings’ birth-stories even if they already know the details. As parents, we do not tire of telling them either. The Church is about to retell our story again – our salvation story. The Church begins a new liturgical year this Sunday – the First Sunday of Advent. At this time, the Church makes present once more the waiting for the Messiah. Our hearts long for the coming of Jesus.