Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith.
— Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2226
Seven years ago our parish switched from weekly CCD to a monthly family faith formation model we called LIFT, or Learning In Faith Together. The reason was solid: children whose parents model Catholic living and make faith and the sacraments a priority are more likely to hold onto the faith themselves. Children first experience God’s love through their parents—and the best way to keep kids Catholic is for parents to teach them by their own words and example!
Our program has changed, but our original goal—to gather as a community to help parents share their faith with their children—has not. How will this play out in our LIFT and sacrament classes this year? By emphasizing three ways we can encounter Christ in our day-to-day lives:
- In Our Family. This year, LIFT families—adults and high-schoolers, middle- and grade-schoolers—will be covering the same monthly topics at an age-appropriate level, so that the faith-building activities for each month can be a family affair.
- In Our Community. If the Church is the Body of Christ, then we can encounter Jesus in each other. To that end, LIFT will feature shorter lessons and more practical small-group discussions, monthly personal witnesses or speakers from the parish, and a bigger emphasis on service activities and ways of living our Catholic faith outside of the church walls.
- In the Holy Eucharist and the Sacraments. The teens on our new LIFT Crew offered a profound, yet simple, insight. “Get people in front of the Blessed Sacrament,” they said, “and let Jesus do the work.” So this year, we will be emphasizing the essential importance of Mass and the Holy Eucharist, as well as Confession and the other sacraments, for adults and young people alike.
I often hear parents say that children learn more attending weekly religion classes. While they may learn more of the content of the faith, without the habits of regular prayer, Mass attendance, and confession, and without discussing and living their faith outside of church, that content doesn’t stick. We often speak of planting seeds, but only when good ground is properly prepared can the seeds germinate.
To that end, we are encouraging all parish families, including those in the parish school, to attend LIFT. For families who have children preparing for First Communion and Confirmation, LIFT is required except in three cases: if the children attend the parish school and have regular religion and sacrament instruction; if the children are a part of our parish home-school group and have regular religion and sacrament instruction; or if the family has no children younger than ninth grade.
We are asking for a commitment—but it’s no more than the commitment we’ve already made as baptized Catholics and disciples of Christ.
We know that the cost of LIFT can be an obstacle for families. LIFT and sacrament fees help to cover the costs of staff, materials, speakers, and retreats, but no one is ever turned away from LIFT or the sacraments due to money. Please don’t let the cost stop you from registering and attending!
If it’s a matter of time, consider this: what better investment of two hours a month can you make? Two hours a month to help lead our young people to Christ by personal example—to make disciples, who are “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22).
We cannot save time—we only spend it. What greater gift can we spend it on than salvation?
Blogger’s Note: This article appears in the Sunday, Sept. 6, parish bulletin.