Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Everyday Grace:
Keep family faith on track this summer

by Mary Cronk Farrell

(From the July 7, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)

Mary Cronk Farrell As I joined the women of my parish for a gathering to celebrate the summer solstice, I felt a connection to generations of women before me. It was a potluck, after all. Perhaps nothing links women down through the ages more than cooking for others.

We ate and visited; shared reflections on our faith journey sang and prayed. Two-month-old Sophia was passed around, her bright dark eyes first watchful, then slipping closed in sleep. As the full moon rose, so did a chorus of wisdom composed of the voices of young mothers, mid-life women, vowed religious, elders and grandmothers.

Throughout human history people have marked the change of season with ritual and celebration, but this was my first time for such a summer solstice gathering. For me, it was powerful prayer and strong connection with my faith community. I came away with a renewed commitment and energy for keeping priorities straight this summer.

Here are some of my ideas for keeping family faith on track this summer:

• Schedule quiet prayer time with my family and for myself. I keep coming back to this one; it seems to be the bedrock of living a Christian life.
• Take time as a family for rest and rejuvenation. This seems obvious, but more often than not, our “vacations” become whirlwinds of activity that drain rather than restore us. Consider relaxing one day each week with your family, instead of counting on that big vacation at the end of the summer to refresh everyone.
• Commit to Sunday Eucharist as a family. Here’s my line for complaining teenagers: “This is a family activity. I understand you don’t think it’s worthwhile. It’s important to us, and you are an important and valued member of our family. Being part of the family means you participate in family activities, even when you don’t want to.” If you have a better line, please write and let me know.
• Include children in the responsibilities of the household. Yes, it takes more time and effort than just doing the work yourself, but it’s worth it. Even pre-school children can help with simple, short tasks and you’ll be training them in life skills as well as giving them the opportunity to know they are capable. It’s helpful, especially with adolescents, to offer a choice of chores. Communicate clearly what the job requires, while allowing some leeway in method or timing.
• Let go of one expectation, maybe even two. Summer’s here and the list has been forming in the back of your mind since the first days of spring: clean the hall closet, paint the back fence, finally make that promised visit to Aunt Rosie, invite the new neighbors over for a barbeque, read through that stack of magazines, take the kids fishing…. Admit it. The list keeps growing, and it would be impossible to do it all. Prioritize what’s most important, and let the rest go.
• Read a good book. Let me recommend a few of my favorites. Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka is a practical guide I wish I had read sooner and saved myself many go-arounds with my youngsters. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a powerful, beautiful novel that will make you laugh, cry and be grateful to be alive. The Liturgy of Motherhood: Moments of Grace by Kathleen Finley offers short, inspirational stories of everyday people and canonized saints that affirm the sacred experience of mothers and other caregivers. It also includes related Scripture passages and questions for reflection.
• Seek out and spend time with people of wisdom and faith. I’m determined to do this more, and not just when I’m struggling and need encouragement. God means for us to share our lives, the everyday bits as well as the joys and hard times.

The summer solstice gave me an opportunity to recommit myself to nurturing the spiritual life of my family, but if things don’t go as planned, well, the season will change again.

© 2005, Mary Cronk Farrell

(Mary Cronk Farrell is a Spokane free-lance and children’s writer. Her children’s novel, Fire in the Hole!, was honored recently with a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. Her next book, Celebrating Faith: Year-Round Activities for Catholic Families, is scheduled for publication in September by St. Anthony Messenger Press.) )

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