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Growing A Catholic The Old-fashioned Way:
By Trial and Error 

How high on a five-year-old child’s list of favorite things do you think sitting quietly and listening for an hour rates?

Exactly. When you have a short person in the house just beginning to catch onto the whole concept of Catholicism, you can’t rely on the ceremony of church to awe them into believing.

At least that’s what we’ve found in our home. By the time Cassie hit her fifth birthday, we could see that she was starting to catch onto Catholicism. One clue was when she tried to require all her little party-going friends--from as-yet-unrevealed religious backgrounds--to pray before we cut into her "Little Mermaid" birthday cake.

She is quite the little messenger of God (with a little Disney thrown in).

How she came to have this strong foundation of belief is still somewhat of a pleasant mystery to us. We did immerse Cassie in Christian messages from when she was very wee.

Some of it probably even helped:  Things like giving her a toddler’s Bible with pictures and easy-to-read stories, and letting that be one of the books she could get down herself to look at, sleep with, take on car trips, wrinkle, set up doll beds on, whatever. We thought of that little Bible the same way we think about religion: Live with it, don’t just pull it off the shelf once in a while.

If I had to make a list of the things we did right--in that grand old tradition of parenting by trial and error--I’d pick:

Lest you think my husband and I are naturals at this parenting gig, we also took a few side roads that I don’t think helped Cassie at all and may have, in fact, waylaid her a little on her trek into Catholicism.

For example, I remember trying to make Cassie sit still in church and listen when she was three years old. Talk about doing penance! Getting in trouble every Sunday morning didn’t exactly make church Cassie’s favorite place to go.

Here are a few other boffs (the ones I will admit to):

I guess the good news is that most of what we did right took. Cassie loves God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and even knows a lot of "begats" by heart. She prays, she insists on going to church and her most recent crusade is to teach her friends about guardian angels.

Better yet, we’ve got a second chance. Our second daughter, Jenny, is just seven months old. Who knows what kind of little missionary of God we’ll make out of her if we do it all right this time around?

by Gwen Kopetzky
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This article is © Copyright 1999 by Gwen Kopetzky

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