By Rita Buettner
Every now and then our children catch me off guard. One of them will refer to “the fourth Station of the Cross,” and I’ll realize I don’t know which one that is.
They’ll come to the kitchen hunting for crackers so they can celebrate a pretend Mass in the living room.
I’ll overhear them using the word “consubstantial” to describe how our couch is becoming a fort.
It is at moments like those when I’ll stop and think, “This is why our children are in Catholic school.” Thanks to their school, they are embracing our faith as a part of daily life and making it their own.
My husband and I work to integrate our Catholic faith in our family life, but Catholic school mirrors, enriches and strengthens what we foster at home. Learning from teachers who nurture that faith and seeing their friends and classmates at Mass on Sunday reminds our children that we are all part of one family, one church.
The columnist, right, was a first-grader on her way to St. Pius X School in Rodgers Forge when she paused with two of her sisters, from left, Maureen Beyer Moser and Shaileen Beyer, then fifth- and fourth-graders, respectively. (Courtesy Rita Buettner)
At school they find that it’s not just our family that prays. They begin and end school days with prayer. They say grace at meals. They pray for classmates who are out sick. They say decades of the rosary on Marian feast days. They attend Mass. Then they carry home that approach to prayer. When we see an ambulance, our younger son reminds me to say a Hail Mary. I even catch his big brother making the sign of the cross before he invariably beats me in Uno or Parcheesi.
Sure, our sons delve into reading and mathematics and science and technology and Spanish – and the academics are top-notch. But what assures me we are making the right investment in their education is when they come home reminding us that it’s Advent or Lent or Ordinary Time. They talk about Bible stories and sacraments and saints whose stories I don’t even know.
Whether they are at home or at school, God is always part of the conversation. “Any time I give you a hug am I giving God a hug, too?” our younger son asks. I’m so happy he has a vibrant place of learning to discuss the wonderful, important questions on his mind.
Catholic school also helps our children see that being Catholic means more than fulfilling a Sunday obligation. It means living out our faith – making sandwiches for the hungry, donating money for hurricane victims, collecting socks and canned goods for members of our community.
We want our children to understand and embrace real values that matter not just today, but far into the future. We want them to know Jesus is their friend. We want them to realize the world is bigger than any individual, but also to know that God has a role in mind for each of them. We want our sons to discover their strengths, talents and God-given gifts, and to set out to fulfill God’s work on earth.
Because I recognize that a Catholic school education isn’t an option for every family, we feel especially blessed to be able to give this to our children. As Catholic parents, we are all navigating this rewarding and challenging journey, trying to set our children on the path to heaven. Sometimes I feel that, though I fall short in many ways, one of the best things we are doing as parents is sending our children to Catholic school.
A few months ago our kindergartener brought me a picture he had drawn of himself.
“What are you doing?” I asked looking at the picture.
“Loving God’s creation,” he said matter-of-factly.
Of course he is. He learned how to do that at Catholic school.
Click here to read “Open Window,” Rita Buettner’s Catholic Review blog.