I attended a breakout session Wednesday at the World Meeting of Families with Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver called "The School of the Heart: Parents as Primary Catechists." He offered 10 practical tips to help parents evangelize and catechize their children.
1. Be present to your children. "In a word: Stay home, eat together at least once a day, tuck your little ones in at night, and do things together as a family."
2. Be joyful witnesses to the Gospel. "It's true, the saying -- even if it's hackneyed -- that faith is caught and not taught."
3. Know your stuff. "Take pains to ensure that the faith you're passing on is indeed the faith of the church and not well-intentioned but uninformed and unformed personal opinion."
4. Stick to the core message. "To cite the Holy Father in Evangelii Gaudium: 'Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.'"
5. Pray with your children. "It can be as simple as grace before meals, an Our Father and a Hail Mary and a Glory Be -- or any two out of the three -- before the children go to bed. But start with something."
6. Go to Sunday Mass together. "Every activity on Sunday should be planned around Mass together. This communicates to young people pretty vital lessons about life: that life is not just about work, it's not just about sports; it's also about praise and worship of God."
7. Read the Bible together as a family. "I suggest that you begin with a Gospel -- the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke -- and just do it a little bit at a time, a few verses."
8. Sacramentalize your home. "Children are fascinated by rosaries, crucifixes, holy water, palms, candles, ashes, pictures and statues of the saints. These all point to the great mystery of the Incarnation."
9. Share experiences of faith among yourselves. "Parents should talk to their children, age-appropriately, about their faith journey, about what the Lord is doing in their life."
10. Form the moral conscience of your children in truth and freedom. "Forming free and responsible young people with a moral conscience shaped by the church's teaching is perhaps the most demanding aspect of your evangelizing and catechizing task."
(Photo by Jesson Mata)