Although it is said that we are living in a post-Christian era, much of the Christian narrative is still part of our common vernacular. If asked, most Americans would not only know who Noah, Moses, and Jesus were, but would also be able to connect them with the correct storyline; the ark, the Ten Commandments, and the cross. This is good, because knowledge of the Christian narrative is vital to taking the next, most important step in life which is not only knowing the story of Christianity, but knowing of the author of the story, God himself.
As a Catholic parent, one of my greatest joys has been accompanying my six children on their journeys of faith, nurturing their knowledge of the Christian story and its author. Like guide posts along a path the first four Catholic sacraments – Baptism, First Confession, First Communion, and Confirmation – have been invaluable bench marks for my husband and me in knowing when and what to teach our children about God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and about spiritual matters like prayer and about holy people like the saints.
Of course simultaneously parenting a toddler, three teenagers, and two twenty-somethings, which we are currently doing, can cause all these stories and bench marks to telescope together, sometimes making me feel as if I live in a time-lapse movie! Literally speaking, I can be reading a Bible story to my toddler at bedtime one minute, and then fast-forward to discussing the finer points of St. Augustine’s just war theory with one of my young adults the next minute. “How did they grow up so fast?” is not just a rhetorical question for my husband and me as we actively parent children ages 3 to 21 years old!
One of the most useful things I’ve learned from so many years of nurturing my children’s Catholic faith is that they are never too young, nor too old to benefit from a good story, and neither am I. Borrowing from Jesus’ way of using everyday symbolic images to illustrate eternal, spiritual truth, I developed the habit early on in my parenting of making simple spiritual observations about the world and relaying them to my children through entertaining stories. Contemporary parables, if you will. It was this habit that evolved into my writing and photo-illustrating children’s books, into my speaking at retreats and conferences, and even into writing a newspaper and online column called Homegrown Faith about Catholic family life.
Now, at the urging of many dear readers of that column, I am overjoyed to announce that a book based on this column, Homegrown Faith; Nurturing Your Catholic Family, is being published by Servant Books! Not only that, but the book carries with it endorsements from a whole host of holy Catholic men and women. People like Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston; Bishop George Coleman of Fall River, Massachusetts; Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com; Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, prolific author and EWTN TV host of Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms; Danielle Bean, author and editorial director of Faith and Family magazine; and Mary Kochan, Editor-in-Chief, CatholicLane.com, and others.
To everyone who encouraged me over the years to put this column into book form, thank you! The book includes 52 of your favorite columns; those about teaching teenagers to drive, learning life lessons from caterpillars and hurricanes, and doing mission work in Honduras. Plus, book clubs and mother’s groups take notice! With your needs in mind, I included reflection questions after each column which will guide you in digging a little deeper into the spiritual component of each story.
Just to whet your appetite a little, here is a portion of what Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Member of the Presidential Council of the Pontifical Council for the Family says in the book’s introduction, “In the midst of a society that values individual rights and entitlements over and above self-giving and sacrifice, it can be very challenging to chart a course for authentic family life. Through this wonderful book, Homegrown Faith, Heidi Bratton’s reflections provide a resource that will help to bring strengthened faith and genuine happiness to all families. In addition to making Homegrown Faith part of your personal spiritual reading, I encourage you to consider this book as a gift for your relatives and friends who are raising families or spend time with their extended families.”
Homegrown Faith, Nurturing Your Catholic Family will be released on August 15, 2011 and is now available for pre-orders on www.amazon.com. Truly, how sweet it is for me to offer a book that is dedicated to helping Catholic families gather the seeds of faith and grace sown in church every weekend and grow them right at home all week long. If you would like to book an author appearance or chat about any of my books, or just say hello please visit to my website at www.heidibratton.com or email me at [email protected].
Copyright 2011 Heidi Bratton