By Susan Ciancio
Don’t you just love people who exude excitement? They make you smile. They make you happy! They even make you excited. Why? Because excitement is contagious.
Those of us listening to the Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz know this feeling so well. On a daily basis, we hear exclamations like:
- “Oh my gosh, you guys!”
- “Thank you so much, God!”
- “Man oh man!”
- “What a massive gift!”
- “Fr. Mike, calm down!”
The excitement Fr. Mike has for the Lord and His teachings is contagious. As I listen to him, I can’t help but get excited too. But it’s not just me. This is happening to people throughout the world. If you look at online communities and the discussions on them, you will see that countless numbers of people are excited about hearing and spreading God’s word.
People are on fire for Our Lord! They are on fire because God’s word is shaping us. We are allowing ourselves to be transformed. And Fr. Mike facilitates this transformation with his passion, his excitement, his love, and his now-popular phrases.
Wouldn’t you love your kids to feel this kind of excitement for our faith and for building a culture of life? I know I would!
The first step in helping your children become excited is to become excited yourself! You have to be “Fr. Mike”—meaning you have to be the facilitator of the excitement. You must show your kids that you are on fire for your faith, that you love God more than anything, that you want to glorify God in everything you do, and that it’s important to you to help people understand that all human beings matter and are valued.
It’s not always easy, and of course there will be days you don’t feel any excitement. That’s okay! You don’t have to spend every waking moment mimicking Fr. Mike’s demeanor. That would be exhausting!
But showing your children excitement for our faith is extremely important. That’s why we created some practical tips for ways you can become excited yourself. And then hopefully your excitement will become as contagious as Fr. Mike’s!
1. Get in a good place mentally and spiritually
Find an aspect of the faith or of building a culture of life that brightens your day, that makes you smile, that inspires you, or that you’re excited to learn more about. Maybe it’s a saint-of-the-day book. Maybe it’s learning the history of the Catholic Church. Maybe you want to know more about a particular saint. Maybe it’s the Bible in a Year podcast. Maybe you spiritually adopt a preborn baby or shop for moms at a crisis pregnancy center. Maybe you routinely buy extra canned goods at the grocery store for a food bank. The possibilities are endless. But take the time to learn or to do something for others. When you do something you are passionate about, you will feel more joyful—and your family will take notice.
2. Let your kids see you learning about your faith
We want to be present for our kids every waking moment. We want to play games with them, listen to them, cook for them, help with homework, and so on. And while those things are important, it’s also important that they see you taking time out of your day to pray, to read something spiritual, to listen to a podcast, or to go to Adoration. When your kids see that you are giving time to God on a regular basis, they will see the importance of faith. That doesn’t mean they’ll sit and join you, but it will make an impression. And, maybe, as they grow, they will want to follow your example.
3. Talk to your kids about what you have learned
Dinner time, game time, and even car drives are great opportunities to say things like: “Did you know . . . ?” or “Guess what I read the other day . . .” Share what you learned, then ask their opinion. Get a dialog going, especially if it’s about something newsworthy, like laws regarding assisted suicide. Some teens (like one of mine) don’t often join in a conversation but will listen respectfully. When they do so, we can only pray that they’re processing the information and that God is working in His time with them.
4. Involve and immerse
As parents, we often watch the same superhero movie or the same cartoons over and over again. But we are not hostages to our children’s TV viewing habits. Put some shows on that will teach them about their faith. ETWN has lots of great programming. The Chosen is a beautiful series about Christ and His Apostles that children of all ages (and adults!) will love. Or turn off the TV and put on a recording of the Rosary. If you have SiriusXM in the car, tune in to the Catholic Channel. It has lots of great programming—even some fun shows like the Catholic Guy with Lino Rulli, who will make you laugh while teaching you about the faith! These shows are much better than Top 40 hits!
5. When you don’t feel excited, pray or do faith-related activities anyway
Let’s face it, life is sometimes mundane and difficult. While we all strive to feel excited and on fire for Christ, sometimes we are so tired that we just want to lie on the couch and do nothing. But those are the times when we need God the most. So lie on the couch, but pray, even if it’s just one Hail Mary. Or grab a rosary and say a decade. You could even pick up the Bible and read a short chapter. Letting your kids see you weary is totally fine, but let them also see you draw strength from your faith.
Feeling excitement for your faith and for building a culture of life is a precursor to helping others—especially your kids—feel that excitement as well. It will build that foundation that is so necessary for them to grow to be strong men and women of faith.
Yes, some days you will need to fake the excitement, but before you know it, you will have more and more days where you truly are excited. Your kids will notice this! And hopefully, as they mature, they will feel this same excitement.
That’s building and ensuring a culture of life!
As summer approaches and you’re looking for awesome things to do with your kids, we urge you to check out these lessons. We have chosen the ones below especially to help get your kids excited for learning about building a culture of life. All of these lessons involve activities that will help light the fire of the faith!
Caring for the Least of These: (Grades K-2) This downloadable picture book lesson shows students that every person has a duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable people around us. This lesson includes a butterfly craft, creative snack suggestions, and a bonus butterfly coloring page.
Honoring the Blessed Mother: (Grades 3-4) Students learn the story of the Annunciation and Mary’s “yes” to God to become the mother of our Savior. This lesson includes a spiritual bouquet craft template and instructions, plus a crossword puzzle and a coloring page.
When Heroes Become Saints: Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai: (Grades 5-6) This lesson tells the story of St. Damien de Veuster of Molokai, a heroic priest who volunteered to serve the lepers on the desolate peninsula of Molokai in Hawaii. This lesson includes a fun crossword puzzle.
Defend Life: The Beauty of the Developing Human Being: (Grades 7-8) This lesson explores the science of the earliest moments of a person’s life and gives students a firm foundation regarding the fact that every human being’s life must be protected from creation until death. This lesson includes a word game and a craft template with preborn baby images.
Conversation Starter: Politicians and the Eucharist: (High school) Students will learn about Canon 915, the importance of the Eucharist in our lives, and will see examples from current events and past Church history. Also included are questions to get the conversation started!
Image courtesy of Argenis José González García