Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain, members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, have been married more than 50 years and have seven children, 21 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

She says:

Olivia says: I am concerned that our children will not be learning to pray as I did. I had the opportunity to attend Catholic school, but our kids go to public school because we cannot afford to send the four of them (ages 6 to 12) to Catholic school.

My husband, Blaise, does not share this concern.  He was raised a Catholic, had a public-school education and is of the opinion that he turned out OK. Blaise insists, “prayer is just talking to God and listening to what God has to say to us. You don’t have to go to Catholic school to learn that.”

My treasured memories of daily immersion in our Catholic faith, through little classroom liturgies, May procession rosary and singing, praying to the Holy Spirit before exams, etc., does not exist for our children. How can I get Blaise to understand what our children are missing?

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18).

He says: 

Blaise says: Our kids are just fine. We have always said “God Bless” prayers prior to bedtime when they were in preschool. We go to Mass on Sundays. Olivia and I give good example and like to help others when they are in need.

We eat dinner together and discuss current events as well as the right and wrong of things at dinner or while driving someplace in the car. Our kids can talk to God in their own way and don’t need staid “mumbo jumbo” to effectively pray. Do your job well, play fair, be honest, love much, and pay taxes are ways to pray. They don’t need all that formal stuff.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites…” (Matthew 6:5)

What should they do? 

Both Olivia and Blaise are the primary educators of their children. How the parents behave often determines how the children will behave. Both Olivia and Blaise have their own ideas about prayer and what it should be. Both have expressed solid ideas for positive Christian formation.

If Olivia believes more is necessary, she can replay some of those treasured classroom liturgical celebrations in their home. Such events can follow the calendar and they can develop periodic and prayerful traditions for Advent, Christmas, meaningful saint days, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, summer vacations or birthdays. Sounds as if Olivia may have some great ideas for Christian celebration.

All that is needed is some Christian background music, a candle, a Bible and parents to lead the children. Olivia could get more involved in a PREP program with her children.

Blaise could take a few minutes to pray with his kids like he did back when they were in preschool. Grace before and after meals should be a must at family meals.

It sounds as if Olivia and Blaise have already introduced their children to Jesus. They can continue and expand this focus on God in their lives in countless ways. Taking a trail walk and enjoying the beauty God has provided in creation. Attending the Paschal Triduum as a family can reinforce how Jesus loves us, redeemed us and changed our world forever. Watching movies together with a Christian theme can expand their understanding of the Spirit in our lives.

This family clearly has a strong foundation. All these parents need to do is to continue to progress by developing positive Christian experiences for their children. God will take care of the rest!

“The Lord has eyes for the just and ears for their cry” (Psalm 34:16).