I grew up Roman Catholic and was catechized in the Catholic Church. Sadly, either because it wasn't ingrained into me well enough or not reinforced at home I don't remember anything besides the meaning of the rosary and Lent. Now being a Christian (Protestant - Reformed) I have the great opportunity to catechize my own children. The best part about teaching Calvin (and shortly, Max) the essential truth to the Christian faith is that I get to learn and re-learn alongside of them. Double-win! There are countless times when we are reading his bible and I am learning new bible stories or characters. Those reads even help me understand the whole drama of Scripture.
Shane Rosenthal writes in the Modern Reformation issue Keeping our Kids, "we will all be assimilated into the beliefs, values, and assumptions of our surrounding culture. If not today, perhaps tomorrow or twenty years down the road."
Living in a culture where we are always being told what we should and should not believe in without really being told why, and where we must tolerate everyone's belief otherwise you are intolerable means that it is up to us as parents to raise our children--teaching them to know what we believe and why. They are inevitably going to be exposed to a lot, even at a very young age. But I want to ensure that they know where Nick and I stand on our beliefs and where we find our sources for what we believe. Catechizing my kids will not ensure their salvation (we're not the Holy Spirit), but it will help them understand Scripture and when they are old enough to make decisions on their own they will have the raw materials and categories to trust in Christ.
Calvin is in the parrot stage of life right now and he repeats EVERYTHING (like when he told somebody, "Calvin never listens to mommy"), whether he understands the meaning of what he is saying or not one thing is for sure: he is a human sponge right now. He loves to soak up every word, he's eager to learn and he gets excited when we ask him a question and knows the right answer.
Some ways we work catechism into each ordinary, everyday:
- The Lord's Prayer (his favorite)
- Westminster Shorter Catechism - We do this through song (songs for saplings and from reciting Q and A)
- Gloria Patri and the Doxology
- Reading the Big Picture Story Bible and Jesus Storybook Bible.
- Going through the ABC's of Church History with him.
- Praying with Calvin at mealtime ("God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Amen") and bedtime.
If your child starts saying "Glory be to the Father" on repeat or "There is only one True God" every five seconds and you want to pull your hair out, know that this is just the beginning of them growing with you in the grace, knowledge and admonition of the Lord. There is nothing sweeter than seeing a child pray with a child like faith to the Creator of all things.
Tedd Trip writes in the Modern Reformation issue, Keeping our Kids, "From the time your first child is born, you realize you will never have a happy day if your child is unhappy. The parents' love creates a longing for their child to thrive and flourish. That desire takes on eternal significance when we think of our children's immortality. The idea that they could go into eternity without God is unbearable for any believing parent. So we long for assurance that there is something we can do that will guarantee their everlasting joy and happiness in the presence of God... I realized that as a fallen man I had passed on to my young children a nature that is fallen and corrupt, but I could not pass on to them the grace of forgiveness and new life in Christ. I remember thinking that each day as I taught my children the Scriptures I gave them truth that would either be their salvation or increase their accountability before God..." What a great burden, and joy we have in raising up our children. Raise em' up!