Answering Tough Questions: Finding Time For Faith
Last year at a Family Sacrament Retreat parents discussed the hardest things about being Catholic. We weren't able to answer all the questions that came in. So, we have decided to discuss them in a series here on the blog! You have additional answers to the prompt: "The hardest part about being Catholic is..." leave it in the comments and we will add it to a future post!
The hardest part about being Catholic is finding time for faith.
This question came to us in several forms, such as:
Finding time for Church
Daily social distractions
Being distracted by life
Choosing to give/spend time with God when other things give more instant gratification or are simply more comfortable
Scheduling and juggling family, including kids moods
It can indeed be very challenging to find (or make) time for the deeper practice of the faith. Demands of our jobs, children, extended families, life’s details (like running errands and keeping up with house and yard maintenance) can encroach on even our best intentions. And let‘s be honest (after all, this is about keeping it real), the distractions from social media, the television, text messages, etc. can rob us of faith focus, too!
When my kids were little the distractions came as diaper changes, runny noses, endless making of snacks, and constant housework that felt about as productive as brushing my teeth while eating Oreos. Now that my kids are older the distractions often come as giving rides to school functions or friends’ homes, helping negotiate complicated emotions, proofreading term papers, which can feel overwhelming at times—after all, I am only one person!
Two truths I find helpful:
There is nothing more important than putting Jesus first in my life. Although the whole world clamor for my attention and everything seems necessary, what is truly needed is making time to sit at the feet of Jesus (through participation in the Mass, going to Adoration, spiritual reading, prayer time, practicing silence, and so many other ways). We can see this in Jesus’ own tender words to Martha who was busy in the kitchen and perhaps harboring some resentment toward her sister, Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet. ”Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42) We will never ever regret time spent with Jesus.
Faith isn’t to be a separate part of our lives. It is to be our lives, inextricably woven into the very fabric of our lives. There is a temptation to make faith solely about going to Church on Sunday (or these days watching the Mass on TV) or on Holy Days of Obligation. There is a mentality that pervades our culture that has us preparing for Sacraments, but then not transitioning to make them a regular part of our lives. Children live out the faith of their parents who really live it, who make it not a separate thing they attend to once a week, but rather the light by which they see and do everything.
So, let’s talk about some little ways we can weave faith into our lives. As I write this it is Advent, which is a perfect time of year to practice a little more silence, to focus a little more on the coming of Jesus, and to find ways to love Him a little bit more. Lean into that during this season.
Here are some simple ideas for you:
Make saying grace before meals your regular practice. “Bless us O’ Lord and these Thy gifts which we are about to receive from God’s bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
Make Sunday a true day of rest and faith. Rather than stacking Sunday with work and rushing around for the week ahead, make sure time is set aside for Mass (whether in person or live-streamed), prayer, and rest. It can be as simple as lighting a candle, doing a little spiritual reading, watching a faith-based movie as a family, making time for family dinner.
Build an altar in your home. The family is called The Domestic Church. Every church needs an altar. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Just a simple table or shelf in your home where you place icons, pictures of Jesus/saints/the Holy Family, candles, your Rosaries, etc. It will be a beautiful and constant reminder of the centrality of your faith.
4. Make bedtime or evening prayers a part of your family routine. Again, these needn’t be elaborate. You do not need to know fancy words or fancy prayers. Simple prayers for the heart will do. As a family learn the Our Father, the Hail Mary, or the Glory Be and say it together at night.
5. Watch the Church’s liturgical calendar for special dates coming up. Do not at all feel obligated to observe every saint’s day or every historical day. That would overwhelm anyone. Instead, just pick up a few that might enrich your family life. For example, on St. Joseph’s Feast Day it is customary to eat Italian food. On the Assumption of Mary day you can take herbs to church to be blessed. On St. Francis of Assisi many parishes bless pets! There are so many riches of the Church. Picking up a few extra can add to your family’s enjoyment of the faith. To keep up with the Church’s calendar, you can find all the dates on the USCCB’s website: Liturgical Calendar.
Making time for faith in our busy and chaotic world is a challenge, but truly nothing will give your family greater returns. But, I will say it again: do not get overwhelmed. Small steps. Little acts with great love. Move in the direction you want your family to go, but do not get discouraged by the journey. Enjoy the process.
Daja Gombojav is the mother of nine, Catholic Convert, and Parish Catechetical Leader at Corpus Christi Parish. She is devoted to St. Therese of the Child Jesus and Our Lady of Guadalupe. She also drinks too much coffee and listens to a lot of old-timey Gospel music.