We wish you and your loved ones a very blessed and Happy New Year! Today is filled with the hope and promise of new beginnings and is the time of the year when many of us make New Year’s resolutions. Though we might look back at previous unsuccessful resolutions, there is hope for the future for we can count on heavenly help for ourselves and our families to grow in faith and love.
Families come in all sizes, shapes and descriptions: two parent, single parent, blended, intergenerational, extended and empty nesters, to name a few. No matter what our home situation is, even if we live alone, we belong to our family of origin, to our parish family, and through our baptism we belong to the best family of all, the Family of God – the Holy Trinity. Since we are all adopted children of God our Father, we have countless brothers and sisters in the faith who have gone on ahead of us and are always ready to intercede for us in our efforts to grow in our relationship with Our Lord.
So, the big question is: what are my hopes and dreams for myself and my family this year? In what ways do I hope that I / we can more consciously grow in friendship with Our Lord, learn to love and better communicate with each other, and share our Catholic Christian faith with others?
The following are some suggestions, to be adapted to your family’s circumstances. First, two important reminders: 1. There is no right or wrong way to go about these if your goal is to love Our Lord and others (Remember the Two Great Commandments: Love God and Love your Neighbor). 2. Only choose one or two suggestions or let these serve as inspirations for your own – trying to do too much at once can eventually lead to doing nothing.
Eat a meal together as a family at least twice a week (the more often the better) and encourage each other to share about their day using open-ended questions rather than ones that can be answered with one word. To truly listen to each other it is necessary to turn off all cell phones, computers, TVs and other devices.
Have family time together once a week and share highlights about the day or week, with all electronic devices turned off. Conversation starters could include: What were ways in which you felt loved, appreciated or encouraged? Were you able to help others experience these? What brought you joy or sorrow? Were there ways in which you encouraged or helped others or brought them joy? Were there ways in which you caused sorrow or disappointment to another? What can you do to help make up? What are you looking forward to or are worried about? Also include fun activities, perhaps each week allowing a different family member to choose the activity.
Pray together as a family at least once a week, again, with no electronic devices on. Choose your favorite prayer or perhaps one of the readings for the following Sunday. If you do not have a Sunday Missal, you will find the citations online by typing “usccb readings” in the search bar and then click on Today’s Mass Readings – Liturgy of the Word. After having a few moments of silent reflection, each one could share their answer to “What did I hear God saying to me?” or “How is God inviting me to respond?” Finally, come to church and spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament – he is waiting for you and loves you.
Sister Diane Heiss, SDSH, has served families in the Church for 50 years and was a Director of Religious Education for more than 40 years.