Jesus was brought to the temple as a baby and He went to temple all His life. There in the temple His parents found out He was called by God. He found His call in the temple to do the will of His father when He was 12.

The holy family went to the temple together. Mary and Joseph were church-going people. They brought Jesus to Church even as a baby. The scriptures are clear the church community worshiped on Sunday together. That means families with older and younger people were in Church on Sunday together. Babies, children, teenagers, parents and grandparents worshiped together.

Children belong in our hearts and in God’s temple. I want to speak about giving children a spiritual foundation. I know many of us don’t have young children but you may have grandchildren or be a parent to grown-up ‘children’. You teach now as you taught them when they were younger, by example. If you go to church and pray so too will your children eventually. Don’t underestimate the importance of your commitment to God and Church to your children, both old and young as they both rely on your prayers and example although they may not realise it at this moment.

‘My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me…. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.’ (Hosea 4:6)

The key to God blessing your family is for the family to get to know Him by praying together. Children learn 90% of what they know by example, they imitate the parents. Sitting next to his or her parents, a child watches how they pray. And here I want to say all children, even teenagers need to be in church.

Being a teenager is an exciting and ‘mixed-up’ time. Teenagers are given some freedoms so that they grow up to be responsible adults, capable of making responsible choices. Making church a choice however seems to me to say that church is really not necessary: you can choose to worship God on Sunday or not. The Bible is very clear in this regard, it is a commandment. The Church is also very clear in this regard, it is a sin.

Consider how we tell our children how late they can stay up. Consider also how we tell them what they can and can’t eat. Then consider why we do not tell them that going to church is necessary for their spiritual growth even and perhaps especially at those times when it is inconvenient and lacks appeal. Learning to choose what is demanding and good over what is tempting and unhealthy is a life skill which needs to be taught by word and deed.

‘(God) commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even children yet to be born, who in turn would tell their children.’ (Psalm 78:5-6)

The secret to blessing our families for these and future generations is to teach our families by our lives and our loves, by our work and our words the God we know, the God who created each of us in His own image, the God who became man to redeem us from sin and open our way to eternal life, the God who gives us his body and blood to sustain us on our journey through this world’s ‘valley of tears’.

Psalm 78, informs us that teaching our children today affects our great-great- grandchildren. What we do, or fail to do, today affects generations to come. I know that I am receiving the blessings of at least four generations of Catholics who believed in God and went to church to worship Him and I thank all of them in my prayers.

Never cease to pray for those who came before you and those who will come after you.

This article can be found in Mirror 0615.