The final chapter of The Handbook for Catholic Moms is full of great ideas for promoting a Catholic culture in one's home.
This is actually a very timely discussion among my friends. I'm on an e-group for Catholic moms, and one new Catholic asked how we as moms live out a Catholic culture in our homes. There were quite a few good answers of doing Mass readings, praying with children, and others ideas to promote a family culture that is Catholic and joyful.
For some reason, the first thing that I remember when I heard the question about making a Catholic culture in the family is praying the Hail Mary when an ambulance passes--I know many families do this. Some people might consider that "Catholic lite" or only culturally Catholic instead of truly Catholic, but really, helping kids to pray for others and think of people they don't know is helpful. Once we were in a big city and the kids were non-stop praying Hail Marys, until my husband and I told our children that most of the sirens were police directing traffic, and it was okay to say one Hail Mary for all the intentions and wait until we were back in our small community to resume the practice.
More seriously, the one practice I think is most successful in our family is "the little blessing," something we have done in our family for years.
Many years ago, my husband attended a retreat at a Virginia monastery where the monk leading the retreat suggested parents bless one another and their children with the sign of the cross each day or night, with the words, "The Lord bless you and keep you." The monk pointed out that there are times in life when spouses may be angry with each other, or teen children may pull away from physical signs of affection, but the sign of the cross helps bond families with the sign of the Savior.
I can think of many nights when I have been frustrated with one of my children (or my husband!), and they with me, but we still give the little blessing. The very act of tracing the sign of the cross on the forehead seems to soften the frustration and remind us we do love each other, for both the giver and the receiver.
And now our children bless us, as well. Often one of the children will bless us three times, saying, "Three for the Trinity." It has become a sacred time for our family, and it only takes a moment.
I vividly remember the first time my husband told me about "the little blessing," when we were dating, never realizing that all these years later we would still have the "little blessing" for one another and our children, every single night. Our family spiritual life has changed and grown (and sometimes shrunk) over the years, and devotions have come and gone--I can think of many that have been helpful as times goes by--but "the little blessing" has been a constant.
What are the ways your family lives a Catholic culture?