Amoris Laetitia 287: Passing on the Faith

amoris laetitia memeNo smart-aleck comments on the title of the final theme of Chapter Seven. We’re talking about the faith formation of young people.

287. Raising children calls for an orderly process of handing on the faith. This is made difficult by current lifestyles, work schedules and the complexity of today’s world, where many people keep up a frenetic pace just to survive.(Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 13-14)

Faith formation is difficult, but it is also somewhat far down the list of the priorities of many people. Pope Francis urges the importance of the home as a setting for this formation:

Even so, the home must continue to be the place where we learn to appreciate the meaning and beauty of the faith, to pray and to serve our neighbor. This begins with baptism, in which, as Saint Augustine said, mothers who bring their children “cooperate in the sacred birthing”.(Augustine, De sancta virginitate 7,7: PL 40, 400)

An interesting metaphor: a living child has yet another birth to experience. Natural birth if painful, anxious, yet hopeful. How do we bring faith to birth in our children? With similar emotions?

Thus begins the journey of growth in that new life. Faith is God’s gift, received in baptism, and not our own work, yet parents are the means that God uses for it to grow and develop. Hence “it is beautiful when mothers teach their little children to blow a kiss to Jesus or to Our Lady. How much love there is in that! At that moment the child’s heart becomes a place of prayer”.(Catechesis (26 August 2015))

I don’t believe these kinds of examples aren’t meant to be prescriptive. It is the responsibility of every Christian parent to ponder, discern, and pass on gestures like these.

Handing on the faith presumes that parents themselves genuinely trust God, seek him and sense their need for him, for only in this way does “one generation laud your works to another, and declare your mighty acts” (Ps 144:4) and “fathers make known to children your faithfulness” (Is 38:19). This means that we need to ask God to act in their hearts, in places where we ourselves cannot reach. A mustard seed, small as it is, becomes a great tree (cf. Mt 13:31-32); this teaches us to see the disproportion between our actions and their effects. We know that we do not own the gift, but that its care is entrusted to us. Yet our creative commitment is itself an offering which enables us to cooperate with God’s plan.

The synod bishops endorse active parents:

For this reason, “couples and parents should be properly appreciated as active agents in catechesis… Family catechesis is of great assistance as an effective method in training young parents to be aware of their mission as the evangelizers of their own family”. (Relatio Finalis 2015, 89)

Comments on this, especially from parents?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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