There is a powerful line from the the Old Testament that has found its way on to the walls and mantles of many Christian homes. It is a line from Joshua, the successor to Moses, who is tasked with leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. After recounting the many good works of God, Joshua says to the people: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15, NKJV).
These words provide an important lesson about what it means to lead our families. The words were spoken to a frightened and wavering people. The Israelites — who God protected from plague, famine, slavery and so much more — were debating among themselves whether God would really live up to his word. They were doubting the very promise of God.
But Joshua would have none of this doubt. His declaration is more than a statement of a fact. It is a proclamation of faith.
Essentially, he is saying this: “I trust the promises of God. I will do what he asks, because despite the challenges and opposition, God will keep his word and so my family will serve him.”
For a Catholic family to thrive, the father must be like Joshua — he must be committed to Christ. A father’s role is irreplaceable, and the choices he makes, just like Joshua’s, will have a significant impact on his children’s lives — not just in the here and now, but for eternity.
This is an important and weighty reality. It is not just a personal opinion, it is true: Studies have shown that the single most important factor in determining that a child will continue to attend church istheir father’s practice of the faith.
There is a line from St. Paul that also helps us understand this dynamic. In writing to the Church in Corinth, Paul says: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Our faith is learned by imitating others, and this is especially true for dads and their kids. Are we confident that we imitate Christ in our own actions? When our kids imitate us, are they be imitating Christ? Are we serving him as we ought, so that they might serve him as they ought?
Quite simply, when we choose Christ for ourselves, we choose Christ for our whole family.
As Catholics, we believe that God will keep his word. We have embraced this faith as Knights. The Knights of Columbus are about more than our rich fellowship and top-notch service projects. The Knights, like Joshua, are committed to serving the Lord, no matter what challenges lie before us in the Promised Land or how many Goliaths we face. To be a Knight is to proclaim that God is faithful and true, and that we, with our families, will be faithful and true.
In order to be faithful, we must first and foremost be men of prayer.
Our children need to see us pray and they need to see us lead the family in prayer. This is how they will know that God is the most important thing in our lives. This is how they will learn that our lives are a gift from God, that he sustains us in everything, and that we owe him all our gratitude.
When our children see us pray, they will begin to understand what a good, loving and powerful Father we have. This is especially true in difficult times, when our children see us pleading with our Father to help us, to guide us, to heal and forgive us, and to direct us. When they see us trusting in God, especially in moments of trial and pandemic, they will learn that we put our trust in God, no matter what. That our faith is strong, no matter what.
In the end, what our children will see is that God is not just an idea or some distant force. They will see that he is real, personal and loving. They will see that he cares enough to listen to us and to act on our behalf because he loves us. They will know, as we know, that God is for us. He is for our families. And in him, all things are possible.
To build up our family, our domestic church, we must establish good prayer practices in our home. It means keeping things out of our home that turn us away from God. It means talking about our relationship with God.
Most importantly building up the domestic church starts with the fundamental decision to make God the most important thing in our families. It means witnessing to the truth, and to say every day with Joshua, in all our words and actions: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
Originally published in a special bi-weekly edition of Knightline, a resource for K of C leaders and members. To access Knightline’s monthly archives, click here.
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