Maybe the phrase “the family is under attack” seems too bombastic and unrealistic, because some of us feel that their family is fine. However, if we know the true nature and purpose of the Catholic family, then we should see that the threat to Catholic families is something real happening all around us. What’s more, if we also realize the responsibility of parents in the education of children’s faith, then we will be more aware of this threat, and try our best so that we don’t fall and ‘give up’ to circumstances.
If we look at the world around us, we can honestly see that there are so many broken marriages. The breakdown of this marriage not only befell distant friends or relatives, but also friends and relatives who are close to us. How many of us have seen that the children of our friends or relatives whose lives are messy, trapped by drugs and free sex, have even been imprisoned. Maybe we also often see there are so many children born to Catholic families, but eventually convert to another church or maybe to another religion, or maybe become atheists. This is the condition experienced by parents today, the root of which is because parents do not sufficiently carry out Christian faith education to their children from an early age. It can be said that nowadays, raising children and instilling the Christian faith in them is even more difficult, because the current world conditions often conflict with Christian values. Even the dynamics of life in our own homes often add to the difficulty of applying Christian values. Traffic conditions, busy parents, the influence of mass media, consumptive lifestyle, mental ‘don’t want to be bothered’, are some examples, why parents face great challenges to carry out their role as primary educators for children in the family, especially in terms of faith.
Today there are many children who think of home only as a place to eat and sleep. Both parents are busy with their own business, so there is not enough time to communicate with the children. If communicating about everyday things is lacking, let alone talk about God and the Catholic faith. This lack of parental attention causes children to seek their own pleasure, to be engrossed in their own world, and to seek fulfillment of their need to be cared for and loved in their own way. Some may get it from playing games on the computer/internet, chatting on FB (Face book), BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), watching TV or going for a walk/shopping at the Mall. Today’s children develop into individuals who tend to be individualistic rather than communally oriented and interact directly with the people around them. Or, momentary pleasures and instantaneous rah-rah are the choices of many young people today. About faith? To them it seems like only a second priority, or not even a priority at all. About God? Maybe it doesn’t interest them. In this condition, the parents seemed helpless, and finally gave up saying, “Nowadays are indeed different from the past…. Now it’s up to the child, we parents can only pray…. ”
This phrase is ironic, but implies parental despair, or regret that things have already happened. We must try our best not to let our children grow up to be arbitrary and ‘uncontrollable’, and then we can only regret it. There is always something we can do to prevent bad things from happening to our children, and we can start with a simple step: by faithfully instilling faith in our children from an early age. The hope is that, after they grow up to be teenagers and adults, they can become complete, faithful and responsible individuals.
How to resist attacks from outside and build a Christian family from within?
Like a house, the family must also be built on a strong foundation. And that solid foundation is faith in God’s word and its application in our actions (cf. Matt. 7:24-27). The family is the first place for children to receive faith education and practice it. In this case parents take the main role, namely to show God’s love, and educate children to know and love God and because they love God, they can love others; starting with loving parents, brothers and sisters, friends at school, housemaids and drivers, and so on. So it is the duty of parents, to shape the character of their children to make them individuals who put God and His commandments first. To what extent is this done by parents, if their children spend most of their time in front of the computer/TV or other means of communication, with little or no communication with their parents? How can parents show God’s face to their children, if children rarely see their parents’ faces every day? Or if the parents are at home, do they pay special attention to the children, or are they busy with their own business? To what extent do parents direct their children, to remember God’s presence in their lives, so that children can spontaneously give thanks, ask Him for protection and help?
Presumably we need to remember together, why all these things are important and we must do it. Yes, because of all of us, both individually and as a family, we must remember that our ultimate goal in life is Heaven. We believe that God wants us to unite with Him in heaven, so we must strive together to achieve it, of course with the help of God’s grace.
The main goal of Christian education
With the ultimate goal of man is eternal life with God in Heaven, ((cf. Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis, 1: “The aim of education in its true sense is: to achieve the formation of the human person in the perspective of his ultimate goal and for the welfare of social groups, in the where he as a human being, is a member, and when he is an adult he will take part in carrying out his obligations in it.)) then the education of children in general must lead to the formation of the human person as a whole, both in terms of physical, moral, intellectual so that children can become human beings who are responsible in dealing with this life, so that one day they can enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So the task of parents is to send their children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Have parents realized this noble task?
Next, we may ask, if the goal of Christian education is heaven, how is it possible to achieve it? The Catholic Church, through the Second Vatican Council teaches that children can be led to reach heaven, if they are introduced to the mysteries of salvation, faith, holiness in order to be ready to bear witness to the hope of their faith. And in this case, the reception of the sacraments and the celebration of the liturgy becomes important, because it is there that we all receive the sanctifying grace of God:
“Christian education is not only aimed at the maturation of the human person as described, but above all it aims to achieve that those who have been baptized step by step deepen the mystery of salvation, and become more and more aware of the gift of faith they have received; so that they learn to worship God the Father in Spirit and in truth (cf. John 4:23), especially in Liturgical celebrations; so that they are trained to live their lives as new humans in truth and true holiness (Eph 4:22-24); so that they may thus reach full maturity, and the level of growth befitting the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:13), and share in working on the growth of the Mystical Body. In addition, the faithful should realize their vocation, and train themselves to bear witness to the hope that is within them (cf. 1Pe 3:15) and to support the changing of the world according to Christian values…” ((Ibid))
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In addition, parents must also educate their children to recognize and apply the most essential values in human life, namely that every human being is valuable in the eyes of God, regardless of race, religion, or occupation. Thus, children are taught to respect the people around them, especially those who are less fortunate than them. Pope John Paul II taught thus:
“Even in the midst of the difficulties of educational work, the difficulties that are sometimes even greater today, parents must confidently and boldly educate their children about the essential values in human life. Children must grow up with the right attitude about independence [freedom] towards material goods, adopting a simple and modest lifestyle, believing that “man is more valuable for what he is than for what he has.” ((Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio 37))
It is a reflection, to what extent do we as parents teach this to our children? Do not let our children only value people based on appearance, or children are so tempted by expensive things, that they are no longer able to appreciate simplicity and sincerity.
Parents are the first and foremost educators of children
Given the importance of the purpose of education, and how it should be carried out in a Christian manner, it is important to underline the role of parents as primary educators of children. The Catholic Church teaches thus:
“Because parents have channeled life to their children, parents have a very serious obligation to educate their children. So it is parents who must be recognized as the first and foremost educators of their children” ((Vatican Council II, Gravissimum Educationis 3, see also CCC 1653 and Familiaris Consortio 36)). Thus, parents must provide time for their children to mold them into individuals who know and love God. The obligation and right of parents to educate their children cannot be completely replaced or transferred to someone else ((see Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio 36, 40)).
Parents as the main educators in terms of faith in children mean that parents must actively educate their children and be involved in the process of educating their children’s faith. Parents themselves must practice their faith, strive to live holy lives, and continue to apply the teachings of faith in family life at home. This is very important, so that children see that faith is not only to be taught but to be practiced, and passed on again later, if the children themselves form a family in the future.
As primary educators, parents must be involved in the educational process carried out by schools, and parents are tasked with shaping their children. Parents must know what their children are learning at school, the books they are reading, how their children’s attitudes and behavior are at school, who their children’s friends are, and so on. These duties and responsibilities cannot be transferred or handed over to domestic helpers or tutors. Parents are unable to concentrate on their own business and work, and are less concerned or less willing to be involved in their children’s education. Sending children for tutoring, or sending children to national plus schools, does not guarantee the formation of children’s character well.
The same is true in matters of faith. Many parents think, as long as they have sent their children to Bina Iman, the task is complete. Such thinking is completely wrong. Teachers at schools, tutors or Bina Iman teachers only help parents, but parents still have to do their job as primary educators. Educating children in terms of faith is actually not difficult, because it can be started from simple things. However, it takes commitment and sacrifice on the part of the parents, for example: praying with the children and reading the Bible story to them every night, taking the children to Holy Mass and afterward explaining to the children its meaning, encouraging the children to practice a the teachings of the Word of God, giving correction if the child makes a mistake but after that still embraces it with love, and so on.
1. Pray with the family and accompany the children to receive the sacraments
Prayer is the breath of faith. So if we want to instill faith in children, we must first teach them to pray, and not just teach them, we need to pray together with them. In every situation, whether difficult or happy in the family, we need to pray. In a state of joy we give thanks to God; and in sorrow, trouble, pain, we ask for His help. God’s Word teaches, “… in all things express your desires to God in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” (Phil 4:6) Furthermore, parents also need to prepare their children to receive the sacraments. Pope Paul VI taught:
“Mothers, do you teach children Christian prayers? Are you, with the priests, preparing the children for … the sacraments of Confession, Communion, and Confirmation? Do when they are sick you encourage them to contemplate the sufferings of Christ, to ask for help from Our Lady and the saints? Do families pray the rosary together? And you, fathers, do you pray with your children…? Your example of honesty in thought and deed, accompanied by prayer together, is a life lesson, and an act of worship of singular value. In this way you bring peace to your home… Remember that in this way you build the Church.” ((Pope Paul VI, General Audience, August 11, 1976, Familiaris Consortio, 60))
Besides being important for children’s faith growth, family prayer also plays an important role in uniting families. Pope John Paul II also called for the same thing, by encouraging families to read and meditate together on the Scriptures, prepare before receiving the sacraments, perform a prayer of consecration of the family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a prayer of homage to the Virgin Mary, a prayer before and after meals and other devotional prayers. ((cf. Familiaris Consortio 61)). Repeating the teachings of Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II also called for the importance of praying the rosary with the family to foster harmony and cultivate spiritual life in the family. Prayer with the family is very important, because by doing this, God’s word is fulfilled in the family, “If two of you on this earth agree to ask for anything, their request will be granted by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:19-20) Not surprisingly, Mother Teresa taught, “A family that prays together will remain together.” ((Mother Teresa’s Address to the United Nations, October 26, 1985)).
Unfortunately, the current trend is that families do not set aside a special time to pray let alone meditate on God’s word together. Whereas from an early age, children generally have a thirst to know God’s word. There are many children’s curiosity about many things, especially also about God and the stories in the Bible. As parents, we must respond to their soul’s longing to know God. Parents are the first evangelizers of their children. ((cf. Familiaris Consortio 39)) Neither school nor Faith Building can help, but cannot replace the role of parents in this.
Likewise, attention to the sacraments also needs to be increased in family life. Because there seems to be a tendency that parents do not pay special attention to preparing children’s minds before they receive the sacraments. How many parents guide their children to examine their minds before receiving the sacrament of Confession? Many parents celebrate their children’s birthdays, even in five-star hotels, but how many parents celebrate their children’s birthdays by offering thanksgiving at Holy Mass? Or celebrate their children’s Baptism, First Communion or Confirmation, even if it’s just a simple prayer at home? Whereas the meaning of Baptism is far more valuable and cannot even be compared with the meaning of birthday celebrations. Because Baptism leads to eternal heavenly life, it’s not just celebrating the number of years we live on this earth. Then, there are many parents who attach importance to the ‘going around eating’ event every week, from one restaurant to another, one mall to another, but are parents diligent in preparing their children’s minds, and themselves, to take part in the celebration? Eucharist? For example, by meditating on Sunday’s Gospel reading on Saturday night or Sunday morning before going to church?
In this case, the role of the father/father is quite important, namely as a priest in the family. Fathers are called to lead their families to remain in the Lord. This can be realized in simple ways, for example; fathers lead family prayer, whether in the morning or evening; the father blesses his children with the sign of the cross on the forehead before the child goes to school; fathers read Bible stories to children and explain them, fathers prepare children to receive the sacrament gratefully and so on. Of course, this requires that fathers (as well as mothers) live the Catholic faith in order for this experience to be shared with children.
2. Parents should strive for an atmosphere of love and togetherness at home
Parental love is the basic element and source that determines the quality of the role of parents as educators ((cf. Familiaris Consortio, 36)). The atmosphere of love must exist in our homes, so that we can educate our children well. So parents must create an atmosphere at home that is full of love and respect for God and others – in this case family members at home – so that comprehensive personal and social education for children can be fostered. ((cf. Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis 3))
Furthermore, the intention that parental love is the basis for children’s education, is that love must animate all the principles of children’s education, accompanied by the values of kindness, service, not favoritism, loyalty and sacrifice. ((cf. Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 36)) This self-sacrificing love is the foundation that sustains the family, so that the family becomes an image of the Church that is lived by the sacrificial love of Christ on the cross. Among other things, this is what makes the family Ecclesia domestica (small church/household church). ((cf. Familiaris Consortio, 49)) On this principle, we as parents must think about what is best for children according to God’s will, and not just what children like. Because generally what is best for children requires sacrifice from parents. An example is that parents need to make time for their children, in order to listen and communicate with them heart to heart. Communication between children and parents is very important, because without communication it will be very difficult to create a loving atmosphere in the family. This time together is ideally done every day, for example every dinner, or before evening prayer. But also on weekends, on Sundays, or especially during school holidays, parents need to make time for their children, on vacation with their children. It doesn’t need to be in an expensive place, but it is necessary to make time together, where children can play with their parents, laugh together, vent and listen to each other.
In times like these generally, parents can little by little ‘enter’ in teaching, either by word or by example, about the goodness of God, about His presence in our lives, and about the importance of faith in this life. These are the times when parents can teach about God’s presence in simple things, through the creation around us and through the people we meet. This is an opportunity for parents to teach their children to give thanks, if they see a beautiful sight, if they can eat good food, if they can play fun with new friends, and so on. If children are able to experience God’s presence in simple things, then it is likely that they will have the sensitivity to always give thanks to God and desire to carry out His will.
3. The family must be the first school to inculcate Christian virtue
In this atmosphere of love, the family must be the first school to instill Christian values and virtues, such as: forgiving other people’s mistakes, learning to apologize if they make mistakes, respecting each other, sharing, helping each other, comforting each other if someone is in trouble, caring for each other, especially for the weak, sick, and poor, acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of each family member, being willing to sacrifice for the good of others, and so on. Parents should set an example in these Christian values, and not only with words, but especially with actions. Children will learn more quickly from the example of their parents’ actions than from what they are taught by words alone.
It is to inculcate this Christian virtue that parents share in the authority of God the Father and Christ the Shepherd; and also in the motherly love of the Church. ((cf. Familiaris Consortio 38)) That is, parents should not be reluctant to give correction if the child makes a mistake, but of course the correction is given with the motivation of love. So in practice, parents may be firm, but don’t lose self-control when reprimanding our children. Furthermore, after giving a correction, and the child has realized his mistake; It is very important for the child to be embraced again and receive confirmation that we as parents still love him. So the purpose of the correction is, first of all, not so that they are afraid of our parents, but so that the children can know that their wrongdoing grieves God’s heart.
4. Parents are obliged to convey education in terms of essential values in human life.
Furthermore, it is from parents that children learn the essential and most important values in life. These essential values according to Pope John Paul II are:
1) justice that respects the dignity of every human being, especially those who are the poorest and most in need of assistance;
2) the law of love: giving oneself to others and giving is joy,
3) sexuality education which concerns the whole human person, both body, emotion and soul;
4) education about chastity;
5) moral education that ensures children act responsibly. ((cf. Familiaris Consortio 37)).
So, first of all, parents need to teach about the principle of justice that respects everyone, especially those who need our special attention and help. For example, older children should be taught to protect their younger siblings or younger children. Or children should be taught to respect and pay attention to grandpa and grandma, especially if grandpa and grandma are old. Holding their hands, talking to them is a simple example. Children should also be taught to be polite to older people, including housemaids and drivers. Children also need to be taught to be sensitive to help people who need help, for example comforting if a family member is sick, praying for other people who are affected by disasters, giving alms to the poor and so on. Children also need to be taught to respect human life, and that humans are formed from the mother’s womb, so that later the children will understand that it is not their right to end human life, whether through abortion or euthanasia.
Second, parents need to set an example for their children, that ‘giving is joy’. This is very important, to shape the character of the child to be generous and not selfish. Children need to be reminded that they are not the ‘center of the world’, or the king or queen of the universe. Children need to be taught to be happy to share, because everything they have is a blessing from God’s ‘deposit’. Remind the children that: “…God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7) ‘Giving’ here, has a broad meaning, not only material things, but also joy, love, and forgiveness. ((cf. CCC 1657))
Third, sexuality education in children also needs attention, which can be delivered according to the child’s age. Do not let sexuality be limited to sensuality; but must include the whole person, body, soul and emotions. This kind of appreciation sees that naturally there are differences between men and women, which are not only related to their gender, but also involve the whole person. So from a young age boys must be taught not to hit girls, for example, but to protect girls. Children should be taught to respect “privacy”, respecting the body by not playing with the sexual organs. Children need to be reminded that this body is the temple of God, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle Paul said, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who lives in you, the Holy Spirit which you have from God, -and that you are not your own? For you have been bought and the price has been paid: Therefore glorify God with your body!” (1Co 6:19-20, 3:16). In this case children need to be reminded that their bodies belong to God, so we must respect and use them according to God’s will. This reverence for the body leads to the next principle, which is about purity.
So the fourth principle of the education of chastity is related to sexuality. If the children have been taught that this body is the temple of God, then the children need to be reminded to keep the body holy as the temple of God; and furthermore also to respect the holiness of other people’s bodies. This can be started by giving simple instructions to children, especially girls to wear decent clothes, which do not necessarily follow fashions that do not support children to uphold chastity. In this case, it is important the approach of mothers to daughters, and fathers to sons, so that they can be directed to view their bodies as gifts from God that they must maintain chaste according to the will of God who created them. It becomes relevant here if we encourage them to follow the example of Our Lady and Saint Joseph, who kept their bodies pure, in order to offer the best to God.
Finally, parents need to provide direction on moral education to their children, so that children can become responsible individuals. The most practical grip is indeed the ten commandments of God, and parents can read the description in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2083-2557. But the most important thing is how to convey the point to children in a language that children can understand, so that children can understand it and make it a guide for their lives. Furthermore, about instilling responsibility in children, it can be started from simple things, such as making their own bed, bringing dirty dishes and dirty clothes to the washing place, tidying up books or toys that have just been used, and so on. Children also need to be trained to accept the consequences for their actions, especially if they make mistakes. This consequence is not merely to punish, but to realize that every decision we take and the actions we take have consequences, and we must bear them. This awareness will make children do everything with full responsibility, because since childhood children are accustomed to thinking far ahead before acting. The most common example of imposing consequences on children is temporarily withholding their ‘privilege’; for example, if they say they are rude/against their parents, then the consequence is, they don’t get pocket money/snack money reduced for a few days. However, before being sanctioned, parents must tell their children about the ‘rules of the game’, so they are not surprised and protested. When this rule is enforced, parents must continue to show love to their children, so that children know that this consequence is not done because parents hate their children, but because parents are shaping them to be better people.
5. Teaching about faith
can be done at every opportunity and can be packaged attractively Teaching about God and His commandments does not have to be given in the form of ‘lectures’ for children, which is certainly boring, but should be packaged in a more lively and interesting form, according to the age of the child. Quiz / guessing game, father or mother reading a picture of the Bible, or watching a spiritual DVD together and followed by a short discussion can be an option. In addition, it should not be forgotten that every even the simplest incident can be used as a moment for teaching about faith. For example, when a child falls while learning to ride a bicycle, it can be used as a moment to teach how we as humans can fall into mistakes and sins, but God can help us so that we can get up again, before we finally succeed. Or another example, when there are neighbors/relatives/relatives who need help, that’s when our family goes to visit and cheer them up. Or invite the children to play together, whether to play monopoly, play cards, or play badminton, but then teach the children to be sporty; recognize the strengths of others -if he loses-, and should not be arrogant and underestimate others, if he wins.
After the child has grown into a teenager, the possibility of teaching about faith can be done more deeply, for example, sharing about experiences that day, about certain virtue exercises that were agreed upon the day before, for example about patience. Listen to the child’s experience and share our experiences as parents throughout the day to be patient. It’s good if this sharing is closed with a prayer. If this is done consistently, both parents and children will grow in holiness.
6. Parents are responsible for fortifying their children against the bad influence of the surrounding environment
Recognizing the strong negative influence of mass media and the social environment around us, parents must have attention to participate in selecting these things for the sake of their children. Watching too much TV does not have a good effect on children, especially if children watch TV without assistance from their parents. Likewise, playing too many video games, especially if the game is sadistically violent, such as shooting, murder, etc., which indirectly stimulates aggressive traits in children, such as anger, violence, unwilling to give in, etc. . Parents also need to select readings/magazines at home; For example, fathers don’t buy men’s magazines/readings that seem to present a woman’s body as an ‘object’ of sensuality, and so on.
Perhaps also needing attention, is the habit of using Facebook (Facebook) among children and teenagers. If possible, parents should also use FB, not to spy on children, but to get a glimpse of the child’s social environment. There is a common risk that if a child ‘plays’ too much by himself with the computer, TV, or the like, over time he will become unfamiliar with interacting with other people. He becomes less flexible in society, less able to carry himself, and too self-centered. It doesn’t mean that TV, internet games and FB are all bad effects. The negative effect occurs if what is watched, or what is played is not in accordance with the teachings of faith and morals; or those who are invited to communicate are people who do not build faith, or even lead them astray; or if watching TV and playing on the computer takes up almost all of your free time. Why? Because if this happens, the child’s heart and mind will no longer be directed to God and His Kingdom.
7. Parents direct their children to dedicate themselves and their talents to building up the Church.
It is important for parents to recognize their children’s special talents and abilities and direct them to develop them for the glory of God. So if children are musically gifted, whether they sing or play an instrument, join them in a church choir group. If the child is good at sports, join him in a children’s and youth sports group; if it’s not already in your parish, start with a few other families. If the child is good at writing/composing, encourage the child to send his essay to the magazine editor in the parish. If children are interested in organizing, join them in the activities of parish organizations, such as altar boys/ SEKAMI (Union of Pontifical Children and Missionary Youth), Legio Mariae (mini), and so on. Children need to be taught to know and love the Catholic faith so that they can live according to their faith, defend their faith and proclaim it. ((cf. Familiaris Consortio, 54))
It is through the family that children are gradually led into fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the faith in the Church. Parents are obliged to bring their children to take part in the life of the Church, either in worship in the parish or in the community, or in spiritual activities in Church communities. Brotherhood of fellow Catholics in Christ, must also be introduced to children from an early age. As early as possible they should realize that apart from being a member of their own family, they are also a member of God’s larger family, the Church. So if he actively supports the Church, it means that he is also glorifying God who founded it.
8. Parents direct their children to find their calling in life to achieve true happiness
Finally, it is important for parents to help their children find their calling in life, whether it is a family life or a celibate life for the Kingdom of God. Although it seems that it is still ‘far’ ahead, parents need to prepare their children for this. Parents need to have the heart to introduce the vocation to the religious life to their children; and cultivate it, if the parents see the seed of the calling growing in the child. The Catechism clearly teaches thus, “…. In the bosom of the family “parents should by word and example be the first proclaimers of the faith to their children; parents are obliged to take care of their respective vocations, especially spiritual vocations.” ((CCC 1656, cf. Second Vatican Council on the Church, Lumen Gentium 11.2)). Of course, in this case, we parents need to have an attitude of generosity, and the awareness that children are a gift from God, so that we don’t think, “May God call many young people to become priests, but not my son…” Let us ask God so that we are enabled to see things from the point of view, which is the best for the glory of God and the safety of our family and all the faithful. Because then, we will have a more open attitude in directing children to find their calling in life; and with grace and joy, support their decisions, without imposing our will as parents. Happy are the parents who support their children when they are called to dedicate themselves completely to the Kingdom of God; because in this way, parents also offer the best, namely their children, to God. Believe that God will multiply true joy and happiness for these families, both in this world and in Heaven in the future.
Conclusion: Let’s ask God’s grace to carry out this noble task
How great is the role of parents in educating children, shaping their character and building their faith, and directing them to the Kingdom of Heaven. But we believe that God never leaves us. His grace is always poured out on us through His Church, which we especially receive in the sacraments, in prayer and meditation on His Word. It is with God’s grace that we are enabled to build our family on a solid foundation. By His grace, we are enabled to be firm in the faith and to exercise it with joy. This experience of God’s love and love for God is what binds the family together, so that any external attack will not shake it.