Happy All Saints Day!
One of the key teachings of Vatican II — is the universal call to holiness — or more simply, everyone is called to be a saint. As I read and share many saint bios and hagiographies in my writing and on Among Women, I often discover that would-be saints often start out in devoted Catholic families. Not all mind you, but I’d say most.
Vatican II called married couples to live the graces of Matrimony in a daily way… walking the talk — to make of their homes, a domestic church… specifically that parents are to be the first preachers of the faith.
Today in the Huffington Post, there’s a quote that echoes what Vatican II taught us, from University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the National Studies on Youth and Religion.
“Parents, for better or worse, are actually the most influential pastors … of their children,” Smith said.
Just for history’s sake, let’s dial back 50 years to Lumen Gentium – the key document from the Second Vatican Council.
From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state. [LG, par. 10][Emphasis mine].
We’re a society that loves research and its findings. Today we have more data on faith and the family from the National Studies on Youth and Religion.
The HuffPo piece “No. 1 Reason Teens Keep The Faith as Young Adults” reiterates what the Church’s wisdom has been all along…
The holy grail for helping youth remain religiously active as young adults has been at home all along: parents.
Mothers and fathers who practice what they preach and preach what they practice are far and away the major influence related to adolescents keeping the faith into their 20s, according to new findings from a landmark study of youth and religion.
Just 1 percent of teens ages 15 to 17 raised by parents who attached little importance to religion were highly religious in their mid-to-late 20s.
In contrast, 82 percent of children raised by parents who talked about faith at home, attached great importance to their beliefs and were active in their congregations were themselves religiously active as young adults, according to data from the latest wave of the National Study of Youth and Religion.
The connection is “nearly deterministic,” said University of Notre Dame Sociologist Christian Smith, lead researcher for the study.
Other factors such as youth ministry or clergy or service projects or religious schools pale in comparison.
“No other conceivable causal influence … comes remotely close to matching the influence of parents on the religious faith and practices of youth,” Smith said in a recent talk sharing the findings at Yale Divinity School. “Parents just dominate.
Parents, if you need a place to start, to recapture this calling to praying and living the faith in your home, here is an easy way to start: In the last 48 hours I posted the latest Among Women interview with Leila Marie Lawler, co-author with David Clayton of The Little Oratory: A Beginners Guide to Praying in the Home. Listen and start with what works for you. I highly recommend this book!
Here’s a few more resources:
Written by me:
Raising Them for Jesus, at CatholicMom.com
Raising Saints for Heaven (from my book Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious)
The Powerful Light of the Family Table, at CatholicMom.com
Among Women Podcasts:
H/T to Deacon Greg Kandra for sharing the HuffPo story that got me to the keyboard.