10-Step Process for Teaching Liturgical Arts in the Family

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Parents and grandparents, ignite your child's imagination in the area of sacred liturgy and liturgical arts. Time is short. I have always said the education of Catholic children in this area is paramount and oft ignored.

This crucial parenting obligation can best be achieved by young Catholic moms and dads continually educating themselves while teaching their kids a vigorous application of all things liturgical that should start from the time the children are infants. It should also include imparting good taste.

Grandparents, if you missed this same opportunity with your own kids - it is not too late - you are being given a second chance. Invest boldly in influencing your grandchildren in the ways of heaven. Take courage and be not afraid.

Note to parents: this is your job. Priests and nuns are no longer guaranteed to do this for you - times have proven uncertain. The imparting of liturgical knowledge including the arts begins in the family. If you rely on other people to teach these blessed things to your children your children may never be taught. Learn from the mistakes of past generations. Some things have to be taught, lived, received and absorbed.

To be clear: the Church's worship in its various aspects is called "liturgy." The liturgy is a rich cultural heritage that is ours to pass on to the next generation. The Church has given us all the resources in the world to study and impart this knowledge.

This is our duty and obligation. The liturgy refers first of all to Mass and then to the sacraments, processions, the offices, funeral rites, etc. Kids need to be taught all of this, including the arts of prayers, hymns, ceremonies, liturgical furniture, sacred vessels and vestments, etc.

Read and share this in the hope that parents and their children may further grow in the knowledge and grace of the divine mysteries and their beauty and artistry.

10-Step Process for Teaching Liturgical Arts in the Family

Parents, you lead by example.  Live and teach the Faith in the home.  Your kids are your most precious cargo.  The Church expects parents to give their children from the beginning the very best possible religious education and liturgical formation and to cradle and nurture their faith through an active and rigorous life-long catechesis.  Teach them the good, the true, and the beautiful.      

Parents must educate themselves.  You must first teach yourselves the Faith.  I recommend to start by reading penny catechisms from the 1950s; learn the basics of the faith and divine worship and then work your way up in knowledge and resources (start with the Baltimore Catechism and/or St. Joseph's Cathechisms).  Teach your kids as you learn.  You may not at first enjoy the material at hand.  If this is you, then pray for the grace to like it and God will honor your prayer.  At first you may be only one step ahead of your child's knowledge; this is OK, for now.  Grow in the knowledge of your Faith.     

Moms play a key role.  They are the heart of the family and generally have tremendous supplies of  energy and patience.  I have always said women have more stamina then men.  Moms, if you can, homeschool your kids; go for it.  If not, do the best you can in a Catholic school.  In any event you must work daily with great diligence to create a family life that is docile to teaching the Faith.  Consider having a proper sit-down family dinner every night of the week without exception around the family table.  Great teaching moments present themselves during table conversation.  Moms are great at steering the conversation on a level children can understand by asking the right questions.  Angle in the saints of the day.    

Dads play a key role.  They are the head of the Christian household.  This means dads are the protectors of the nest.   It is their duty to protect the family with vigilance.  It is up to them to be strong and protect the young and vulnerable under their care.  They set the tone and enforce a strong Catholic identity over the home and hearth, and love their wife and children by preserving this religious identity.  The authority of the father lays down the law to protect the thorough Catholic identity of the home in toto.  When the father speaks, the children listen and obey.    

Grandparents you are not forgotten!  Your role has been lost in recent years and must be re-discovered.  It is your mandate to teach your grand kids the faith and family history and the noble ways of old.  You do this by example and instruction.  Speak of the ways of your ancestors.  How did they pray and worship?  Read good books to the infants and kids.  Maintain a small library with kids books at your house on a lower shelf that kids can reach.  The books do not always have to be religious; remember also the value of folklore in teaching important truths.  Teach your kids about their heroic Catholic ancestors and about epic Catholic histories and solemn and pontifical and grand monastic liturgies and the splendor of living and following the liturgical life and grandeur of the sacraments.  Introduce them to the other-worldly nature of grace and the divine mysteries celebrated at the altar.

Kids learn best from the lives of the saints.  Parents and grandparents, read to them daily the inspiring lives of the saints.  Allow your children to be deeply moved and inspired by true stories of missionary priests, confessors, doctors, widows, martyrs and more.  You can't know all the saints, but allow the kids to get to know one very, very well.   The saints teach us the liturgy is the most beautiful confession of the true Faith.      

Follow the daily liturgical life of the Ecclesiastical Year, the annual holy seasons and feast days which the Church consecrates in a particular way to God's service.  The liturgical year contains two parts: the Proper of the Season (containing feasts in honor of Our Lord) and the Proper of the Saints (containing the feasts consecrated to Our Lady and the saints).  Follow this calendar and live it daily.  

Allow your kids to be inspired by good priests who cultivate liturgical virtue.  In other words, priests who believe and who are reverent and solemn at the altar.  Not every priest has the same comportment at the altar.  Every priest must recognize and convey the supreme divine majesty at the altar.  If your priest is jocular in the sanctuary and the music is banal then you need to find your kids a new parish.  You can always look to the nearest Latin Mass.  At the Latin Mass kids know instinctively it is worship time and not play time -- this is huge.    

Immerse your kids in prayer at home and church.   Daily Mass is not always possible or available.  Get your boys into serving Mass on Sunday.  Get your girls into choir.  Try the parish Solemn High Mass, at least when the kids are older.  Try to stay for Sunday afternoon Vespers if available.  Allow your children to grow up hearing the Latin chants and learning the Gregorian melodies.  Also teach them to play a musical instrument so that they can learn to read music.  Wise parents also recommend you make a habit of praying the rosary together as a family every evening.  Believe me, it will work wonders.  Start a 54-day rosary novena.  See how it goes.  Then keep going.  You will know you are doing the right thing, despite the fires of hell telling you otherwise.  The kids will learn the rhythm of the divine mysteries.  I also recommend attending Stations of the Cross at your parish every Friday during Lent and the occasional Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  

Finally, allow the kids to play Mass at home.  Have a vestment set made for the boys.  The older son can play the part of the priest.  The younger son can be his server.  The other siblings can be in the congregation learning the proper responses in Latin and hymns.  This is a great activity for dads with children.  The dad can lead the priest parts of the Mass of the Catechumens while he coaches the children on how to respond and pronounce properly the responses of the server.  Kids are sponges; they will absorb and memorize quickly Psalm 42 in Latin and the other prayers.        

In concluding, let us look to Our Lady to teach us.  At the liturgies you will always find her in the front row of the first pew, a baptized soul kneeling with her veiled head bowed in humble prayer.  This is her active participation!  And let us look to past generations, to the ages of faith, and the fervor of our role models, especially the sainted pontiffs.  That our knowledge and love of sacred liturgy and liturgical arts may impart in our children a greater splendor to the holy rites, that it may render a more worthy homage to the Divine Majesty, and edify all by worthy example for the next great generation.      

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