By Mary Kaye Falcony
In recent months we have had some foundation work done to our home. We had concrete poured and some support beams replaced in our crawl space. I am sure I am no different than the rest of the general population when I say I hate when money must be spent on things you never see. I jokingly told the workmen that “I couldn’t wait to bring guests down to see the recent work.” Recently, I had also been hard at work preparing the soil in my garden for spring planting. I did some major reading, figured out what needed to be done to prepare, and then I got busy! I bought compost, manure and rich garden soil. The soil got tilled, the weeds purged and weed preventive laid. As I finished I thought to myself here we go again – so much labor that lay beneath the surface that no one will really see or be aware of.
As I began thinking about these recent experiences it did not take long for me to see the absolute necessity for both. Strong foundations must exist so that the vital functions they support can take place. Being an educator for more than 20 years, I think of how much I relied on other teachers to lay the foundation for what would come next in the concepts that I would share. If that foundation was absent things could not move forward, progress would not be made and goals would not be achieved. This is not only true in education but really in all of life; and yes, especially in the realm of our spiritual life.
When we moved to Evansville more than 29 years ago one of my major concerns was who would be there to support my husband and me as we lay the foundation of faith for my daughter. We were leaving our extended family and friends who were very strong, active Catholics, and a parish community that supported us as a young family. These realities enabled us to offer our daughter opportunities to experience faith as a way of life much the same as we did — and the generation before us.
You might think me odd that, in the midst of everything else that figures into the mix of moving, this would be one of the things I struggled with; but in all honesty it was. I believed then as I do now that if a strong foundation of faith could be laid, the challenges of life will be met and seen through the lens of faith and a relationship with the one who loves us unconditionally. I believe as many do that faith makes an immeasurable difference in one’s life.
In the last several years as I have attended conferences, seminars, read books and articles to remain current on the trends within the Church, I have come to find that there has been a great amount of research that affirms the need for parents to lay a strong faith foundation. I was not surprised when University of Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith found that “No other conceivable casual influence . . . comes remotely close to matching the influence parents have on the religious faith and practices of youth;” and “One of the strongest factors associated with older teens keeping their faith as young adults was having parents who talked about religion and spirituality at home.”
Parents are the first teachers of the faith and are the most influential as well! Luke tells us that we are to build our foundation on rock so when the storm comes you shall not be shaken. What greater gift can we give?
Falcony is coordinator of programs and resources for the Office of Catechesis. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.