US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How one parent’s tough love made a lasting impression

God calls us to open ourselves up to others and push ourselves to be our best, always.

By Shanna Johnson |
Article Lifestyle

When I was in eighth grade I was what I like to call a standard achiever. To me this meant doing the amount of work needed to get where I wanted to be and no more. In that first semester, I worked hard to get the grades and standardized test scores needed to assure I would be placed in (nearly) all honors courses in high school. The following semester, my grades tanked.

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How to make Mass mean more to kids

Teaching children to love Mass is much like teaching them to like vegetables.

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck |
Article Lifestyle

Parents who want their children to grow in appreciation for and commitment to Mass are much like parents who are determined to make sure their kids go off to college loving vegetables. Both recognize that their child’s best opportunity for adult physical and spiritual health will come out of the habits they establish in childhood.

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When words fall short, a father and daughter turn to music

Words aren’t always the best way to communicate meaning.

By Emily Sanna |
Article Your Faith

My family is best understood through our use of language. Weekly hour-long phone conversations. The notes I would throw down the stairs after I was sent to time-out when I was little: “Dear Mommy, I wasn’t trying to be a brat, I’m just really hot and I want a fan!” Books, thousands of which line the walls of my parents’ house. The words we use to share, to pray, to celebrate, and to fight.

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Should you force your kids to go to Mass?

One parent reflects on why she doesn’t make Mass mandatory for her children.

By Claire Zulkey |
Article Your Faith

As a child I attended a K–8 Catholic school and went to church with my family every Sunday. For me, Mass was a thing to get through so that we could go home and have donuts for breakfast, what I thought of as the reward for going to church. 

My brain rarely connected with what I heard from the altar. Most weeks, as I sat in the pew, my mind wandered, and I played mental games to pass the time, such as discovering how many of the alphabet’s letters were in that week’s bulletin. (If it was all 26, I won.) 

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10 simple ways to keep faith and family central this Christmas

Help children find the holy in all parts of the holiday season.

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck |
Article Lifestyle

It is hard for a baby in a manger to compete with eight reindeer and Santa holding a huge pack of gifts. The anticipatory pause of Advent—quiet and dark blue—has a difficult time holding a candle to the glitter and colorful lights of a city’s exuberant holiday decorations. But what if we don’t need to compete? What if we can help our children find the holy in all parts of the holiday season?

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What John Mellencamp has to teach parents

Thrills aren’t just for kids.

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck |
Article Lifestyle Your Faith

Little ditty about Jack and Diane. Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland. John Mellencamp’s popular song makes me uneasy. Whenever it comes on the radio as I’m making the bed or driving the kids to school, I stop and listen. And the refrain that comes shortly after that famous beginning always startles me. Makes me swallow hard. Makes me bite my lip and check to see if it is true for me yet. 

Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone. 

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How to find Advent in the Christmas chaos

Slow down and be present to the Christmas joy that surrounds you.

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck |
Article Your Faith

You won’t hear Christmas carols in church during the Advent season, but you will hear them everywhere else. How do we keep Advent a time of quiet preparation in the midst of a world that started singing “Joy to the World” the day after Thanksgiving?

One answer is to pull out your own Advent from the Christmas pieces that surround you. Slow down and be present to what you are hearing and allow the truth in the messages to ready your soul and lead you to find your family’s Advent in the midst of this busy season.

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This November, live out this spiritual work of mercy

How to teach your kids to show up for those who are sorrowful.

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck |
Article Lifestyle

Beginning with All Saints’ Day and ending with the final leaves falling off the trees before winter, November is a fitting reminder that death is part of the cycle of life. During this month, many churches invite their parishioners to put pictures of deceased loved ones on display. November—somber, gray, and serious—calls us to reflect on how we can bring comfort to those in our midst who have suffered a loss. “Comfort the sorrowful” is one of the seven spiritual works of mercy.

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Let Catherine of Siena find her way into your Toyota Sienna

‘Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’

By Annemarie Scobey-Polacheck |
Article Your Faith

St. Catherine of Siena. Our Toyota Sienna minivan has an extra “n,” and on our busiest days I could be known as Annemarie of Sienna. (I did not include “Saint” before my name.) But I admired St. Catherine of Siena long before I needed three rows of seats to transport our family. 

St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” 

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Playing guns: Kids being kids or something to worry about?

How should parents react when toddlers start ‘playing guns’?

By Jennon Bell Hoffmann |
Article Lifestyle

On a recent afternoon, as I pushed my toddler on a swing, I watched a pair of 8-year-old boys chase each other with sticks, yelling “Bang! You’re dead! I shot you!” It was so commonplace that the scene didn’t register as anything uneasy until an hour later, when I learned of yet another shooting on the evening news; sadly, also commonplace. It struck me that in a few years, I’ll be sending my toddler to school, where she’ll learn duck-and-cover and active shooter drills.

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