Continuing his series on the proper way to instill the spirit of Sundays, Fr. Jonathan Loop gives some practical suggestions for parents on keeping the Lord's Day holy.
Again, I will present these practical suggestions following this month's Parent Letter on cultivating a family spirit on Sundays.
Train to Charity
It is vital that parents make a point to create opportunities for their children - and especially their boys - to serve others whether within or without their own immediate family. This battles the innate selfishness that so easily dominates our children. Here are few examples:
- Give your older children a chance to prepare the main Sunday meal on occasion. Make it an honorable thing and a gift to parents.
- On occasion, take your family to visit an old folks home. This is a form of visiting the sick together, which both trains children to works of mercy and brings the family together. When Archbishop Lefebvre was a child, he made a point of joining a sodality with the goal of helping the aged of the parish; he helped clean the apartments of people who had been abandoned. Our children may not be able to do this, but they can visit and encourage older people who have often been abandoned by their families.
- Invite guests and ask your children to take care of them as they would Our Lord.
Instill a True Discipline
While Sunday is intended to be a day of rest, don’t permit it to become a day of poor discipline and sloth. André Charlier, an educator, writing to the parents of his boarders concerning their vacations, advised them, "[Not] to let relaxation devolve into laziness. Make sure they rise at a reasonable hour in the morning, and that their bedtime is not too late." All proportion guarded, the same is true for the family day of rest on Sunday, which is an opportunity to refresh the soul, both in mind and in heart. If the children are simply allowed to indulge their inclination to do nothing, or allowed to do their own thing all day, they will become selfish and be poorly prepared to begin the next school week!
Educate Their Taste
Charlier continued: "Concern yourself with everything that can cultivate the intellectual interests of your child and which can raise him above himself."
Sundays provide invaluable opportunities to form the tastes of your children. Rather than permit them to be absorbed in worldly activities like watching movies or even professional sports, strive to develop a sense of culture. Not only does this form your children in healthy activities (which can protect them against unhealthy recreations), but it serves to bring the family together on a much more solid foundation. Here are just a few possibilities.
Music. It is neccessary to really train children to discern good from bad music. This requires that they have experience of good. One possibility is to make a point of going to concerts, such as a symphony. If the family can play music together, this is even better.
Recreation. Make a point of going to plays or even watching them if a local theater troupe is unavailable. Shakespeare is an infinitely better use of time than any modern movie.
One can also make a point of finding museums or even going for hikes (one boy mentioned he had gone snowshoeing over the weekend this past winter - that is good outside activity!).
- Fr. Jonathan Loop, Principal at Immaculate Conception Academy, Post Falls, ID