Passing on the faith in your family

By Jake Samour
Pope Francis reminded us recently, as he celebrated the baptisms of 34 children, that faith is transmitted in the “dialect” that exists within every home.
Dialect means a particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group. The pope seems to be suggesting that every home is a specific region with its own dialect. Each family has its own language, its own way to communicate.
So, this begs the question: What is the dialect of your family, with your spouse, and your kids, and your relatives and friends? The faith is transmitted not only when we go to Mass, and pray together and take the kids to PSR or send them to Catholic schools.
The way we communicate in the home, what we say and what we do, and the way we behave as a family is also important. Do we create a home where love, respect, service, humility, and forgiveness are the rule? Actions speak louder than words.
This is not to say that it is not important to go to Mass, or pray together as a family, or receive the sacraments, or participate in faith formation studies. On the contrary, we need to do those first.
However, we cannot transmit to others what has not been transmitted to us first. It is by going to church and praying and participating in the sacraments, that we receive graces from God. We receive the very Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – which comes to dwell in our hearts. In other words, we need God’s help to transmit the faith, we cannot do it on our own. Being able to transmit the faith is a grace that comes from the Holy Spirit and this is precisely why we bring our children to baptize them, to receive First Communion, and to confirm them: so they, too, can receive the Holy Spirit.
We need both aspects to transmit the faith: the first aspect is to do what every Christian should do: go to Mass, pray every day, receive the sacraments, and study the faith.
But the second aspect is just as important, which is to put it into practice by the way we live, with our dialect of love. As the Pope reminded us: if the “dialect” is missing, if at home you do not speak the language of love between parents, the transmission of the faith is not so easy, it cannot be done.
Do not forget. Your task is to transmit the faith but to do it with the language of the love of your home, the language of the family.
Samour is director of the diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life.