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Motherhood and Mother Church

Child at prayer

An interview with Newcastle parishioner Clare Howlett about raising a modern family in the Catholic faith.

- By Clare Howlett for Aurora Magazine

I grew up in a home where grace was said before dinner every night. Prayers before bedtime were standard. The rosary was said occasionally and Mass was the punctuation mark to every week.

Religious pictures adorned our walls, Catholic reading matter lay all over the house and conversations about God were the rule, not the exception. I never considered this unusual.

As a mother, and now ‘CEO’ of my own family, I suppose I simply assumed the same for my children.  Most families would subscribe to a common purpose or a ‘mission statement’. Whilst not in writing and perhaps not even verbalised, there is usually a driving principle that propels the family unit. For us, it is our faith in God. 

That being the case, like any worthwhile pursuit, we need certain tools in the toolkit to help us on our way and keep us on track.

For us — and I stress that it’s not so for everyone — Mass is key. Faith, like life, cannot be sustained in isolation and being part of a faith community is like an insurance policy. I think it’s important for us to see other people who think like us, practising similar rituals, so that we don’t feel ‘alone’.

The Mass sets the tone for us and reminds us of our objective, while Communion gives us the chance to encounter Jesus, personally and regularly.  I don’t for a moment think my children fully understand this right now, but over time I hope they will come to understand the importance of the ritual in sustaining their souls as they travel along the road of life.

Prayer life is something we foster too. I ask my children to think of God as their friend and speak to God that way, in the hope that this will then become ‘normal’ going into their future. I want them to see God sitting on their shoulder, travelling the journey with them, not ‘up in the sky’.

Although not seen in many homes these days, we do have a picture of Jesus in a key position in the living area. As much as for anyone, this is for me, when it’s all getting too hard on the home front, to remind me that God is watching what I say.

I think a key element of a healthy faith-filled childhood is the observation of a key mentor ‘walking the walk’. Our kids need to see us doing what we say, otherwise it is just hot air.

Lastly, I would say we ‘Talk, talk, talk!’ Brett and I give the kids our ‘take’ on current affairs. We explain the challenges that we face, both as a general and faith community.

My job as a parent is also to guide and steer our children as we navigate the milestones of life. Of course my husband and I want them to do their best, be good sportsmen/women, negotiate friendships, study hard, get a good HSC and juggle busy lives. Somehow, though, I think the glue of a faith-filled childhood will sustain them far beyond any of these.

Full article: Raising children in faith: a marathon not a sprint (Aurora)

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