Column: The school year will require practical AND spiritual readingess

By Julie Reyna
For Today’s Catholic

Ready. Set. School!

Listen closely. Can you hear it? It’s the slow whizz of deflating pool floaties and the familiar rattle of shopping cart wheels. That’s right! Like it or not, it’s coming! As a mom of four and former student myself, I can attest to the flurry of activity that signals the end of summer and the inevitable approach of a new school year.

Armed with supply lists, we begin the hunt, in hopes that snazzy backpacks, superhero pencils, trendy notebooks and the latest technology will render every school day amazing! But before we pack lunches or blow kisses, we should consider what a successful school year requires, and more importantly, how that success reflects our Catholic faith.

After all, whether our kids attend Catholic or public school, or are homeschooled, as mothers, we are called to instill in our children a sense of the Eternal. And as women, we are perfectly suited to that task by virtue of our feminine genius, a term coined by our beloved St. John Paul II in his Letter to Women which speaks of the specific and beautiful gifts given to women by God.

Simply put, aside from the practical help in purchasing pencils, protractors and paper towels, our role as Catholic mothers requires that we also load our carts with spiritual resources that will direct our students’ hearts, minds and souls toward heaven.

Easier said than done, right?

Yes and no. My advice may seem elementary to some, yet radical to others. Either way, it’s simple. Be a Catholic mom to your children. Let your faith saturate everything you do, especially your mothering. Learn, live and love your Catholic faith while imparting that faith to your children in both practical and spiritual ways. Notice I said learn “while imparting that faith.”  You don’t have to know Catholicism inside and out before you teach it to your kids. The best way to learn your faith is to teach your faith.

Our most important task as mothers, aside from keeping our kids physically alive, is keeping them spiritually alive. The eternal souls of our children are, to a certain extent, shaped by us.  God gives us our babies so that we can give them back to him. But he also calls us to help them get back to him. That means, as we guide them through difficult coursework, exhausting activities, thrilling performances, and stressful social situations, we have endless opportunities to help them apply Catholic teaching to their real lives, to encourage them to look upward.

But what does that look like? Here are three tips to help you spiritually prepare the students in your family for the coming school year.

First, remember that everything goes! Romans 8:48 assures us that all things work for good for those who love God. That means every busy or boring, exhausting or exhilarating, amazing or traumatic school day can be offered to him. Encourage your kids to do so, as it will reap immediate and tremendous spiritual and practical rewards and lead to the holy practice of making daily offerings.

Secondly, repeat after me: Simple is as simple does! I must admit that this advice escapes me every school year as visions of well groomed, smiling children quietly completing their perfect schoolwork while politely asking if they can help prepare dinner, dance through my head! But despite my annual amnesia, something in my soul recognizes the beauty of keeping life simple.  In affirming this soul stirring, St. John Paul II wrote that parents must model and teach simplicity.  He said, “Children must grow up being fully convinced that “man is more precious for what he is than for what he has.” The saints knew it! Simplicity is key!Every mother, especially those like myself who struggle to be all things for everyone, should take this to heart and simplify life.

Thirdly, seize the day! Remember that to whom much is given, much is required. That “whom” is you! You are blessed and so are your children! Step up your game by learning and teaching your kids the faith every day. Ask Our Lady to help you in the pursuit of knowledge and love of Jesus and his church. Attend Holy Mass faithfully, pray devoutly, use faithful resources like Catholic radio, and soon you will recognize and experience the beauty of Catholicism. As a result, you will grow in the desire to reach higher spiritual goals and academic benefits.

So, let those shopping carts cruise and the school supplies sail through the air, but make sure you load up on your Catholic faith as well! After all, this school year will require practical AND spiritual readiness. The bell’s about to ring! Go be a Catholic mom to your children and take stock in what really matters, your student’s soul! Ready. Set. Soul!

Julie Reyna is wife, mother, writer, committee member and emcee for the Pilgrim Center of Hope’s annual Catholic Women’s Conference. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization apostolate that guides people to Christ and his church.

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