By Lisa Galek
Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot like Mother Teresa.
Let me explain.
I’m thinking of the famous quote attributed to her, “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” With society still slowed down due to the threat of Coronavirus, more than ever is on the shoulders of parents and families.
In many parts of the country, there’s limited access to Mass. Catholic schools may be doing remote learning. PSR has gone online as well. Youth groups are not meeting. Some church sports and activities are postponed. Vacation Bible schools are canceled.
Maybe you’re like me. I’m a parent who works from home, but now my three daughters are with me every day. During the school year, I was not only responsible for getting my work done, but I also needed to help with their education at home. This summer, I guided my two oldest daughters through homeschool PSR courses, too. Our church began holding in-person Masses in May but has limited other activities, so I’ve also been busy making sure my children stay focused on their Faith.
Yup. God is trusting me with an awful lot here.
So how do you keep your family centered on Christ right now? You may be doing your part to protect your family’s health by wearing a mask or washing your hands, but you don’t want to neglect to look after your spiritual health as well.
Watch Mass Online
Many Catholic dioceses began welcoming parishioners back to Mass this summer with various restrictions. However, some families are still not comfortable attending in person yet. So how do you keep Sunday from becoming a pajamas-till-noon day? By watching Mass as a family online.
Our parish has been posting live streams of Mass on Facebook Live, and they are moving to watch. It’s a beautiful reminder that Christ is truly present in His church and the Faithful gathered around the world. Remember, “Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39).
Working from home? Learning from home? Events and activities postponed? Lack of normal routines can mean your family might fall out of the habit of praying together.
Open the day with a simple morning prayer. Thank God for giving you this day with your family. What a blessing it is to have this time together without hectic schedules pulling us from place to place! Pray before meals for people who work in grocery stores and restaurants. May God keep them safe and healthy. Before bed, say a prayer for anyone who’s sick or hurting right now. Or for healthcare workers. God bless them with His care and healing.
It’s always a great idea to set some time aside to pray the Rosary as a family. You can even make your own with your kids. You can also light a virtual candle and pray for the health of those around the world.
Serve Your Community
The heart of every Catholic home is a sense of love for God and love for neighbor. Kids naturally want to help others because it brings them closer to the heart of God.
Young children, especially, may not understand the full scope of assistance that’s needed. By offering them opportunities to serve, we can help explain to our children the problem and how we can be a loving solution.
Here are some ideas for projects you can complete as a family:
- Make cards or artwork for nursing home residents.
- Call often to check-in on grandparents or other friends.
- Help run errands for neighbors who don’t feel comfortable leaving the house.
- Order take-out food from small businesses.
- Donate to a local food bank.
- Sew masks for essential workers.
- Organize a collection of school supplies for students learning remotely.
- Call a local homeless shelter and ask if you can make bagged lunches to drop off (often these are as simple as a peanut butter sandwich, a piece of fruit, and a cookie).
And don’t forget to give to your local parish. With no Masses or other fundraising activities, many churches suffered financially during the months they were completely shut down. Your support now keeps your congregation thriving and active and fulfills the command “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).
Create a Sacred Space Outside
After being cooped up inside for days on end, your kids will want nothing more than to get outside. Make a spot where they can enjoy the fresh air and have some quiet time with God.
If you already have a statue of Jesus or Mary or one of the saints, you can place it in an inviting section of your yard. If you don’t have a statue, it’s easy enough to create a simple weather-proof cross out of twigs and string. Ask the kids to help decorate the space with leaves, flowers, or anything else that you would like.
Your outdoor sacred space is the perfect place to read a Bible story together, say a prayer as a family, or just talk about how you’re feeling. Going outside is good for your health—and good for your soul!
Read About the Saints
Many saints experienced challenging times, so reading and learning about them can be a great way to understand our difficulties. Here are some saints you can turn to when you pray:
- Aloysius Gonzaga – The patron saint of young students died in 1591 while carrying for plague victims in Rome.
- Rita of Cascia – The patroness of impossible causes is also the perfect saint to turn to when you are feeling lonely because she lost her husband and two sons.
- Luke the Evangelist – Because Paul refers to him as ‘the beloved physician’ in Colossians, this saint serves as the patron of doctors.
- Clare of Assisi – She was named the patron saint of television in 1958, so she may be able to intercede if your prayers for reduced screen time go unanswered!
Make Catholic Crafts
Let’s face it—your kids are probably getting way more screen time than they should be. If you’re looking for a creative way to take a break, try a Faith-based craft project:
- Prayer Box – Make a personalized prayer box out of a tiny metal mint tin.
- Origami Crosses – Learn to fold colorful paper into fun and faithful shapes.
- Virgin Mary Coloring Craft – This printable activity featuring Our Lady becomes a colorful pop-up display.
- Yarn Cross Ornaments – Add your favorite Bible quotes to these lovely hanging crafts.
- Stained Glass Window Painting – Decorate any glass surface with washable paint to create a spirit-filled stained-glass look.
Love One Another
We are all making sacrifices and feeling overwhelmed right now. Our children are, too.
They miss their schools and their sports. Their friends and their families. The familiar rituals and routines of everyday life. Our world has turned upside down but, never forget, theirs has, too.
But, through it all, God is the one constant. And God is love. That’s why it’s critical for us to love one another. Even when tempers are short. When the kids have had way too much screen time. When the sink is full of dishes yet again. When we’re just plain tired of being stuck in the house with our family!
Tell your children you love them. Things are tough now, but this is temporary. You appreciate their help keeping the house running smoothly. They’re doing a good job.
This doesn’t have to be a big fancy gesture. You could do something as simple as putting a pad of sticky notes by the refrigerator and writing a note when your child does something praise-worthy. “Thank you for completing your Bible reading today, Ben!” or “Great job leading prayer tonight, Maria!”
I’m reminded of another quote attributed to Mother Teresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” We will only get through this time with kindness. It begins at home and echoes out into the world around us.
Lisa Galek is a writer, editor, and Catholic mother of three from Cleveland. She has a master’s degree in religious studies from John Carroll University. Read more from Lisa on her website @ lisagalek.com