Rules for Catholic Family Life

Here are some common Catholic practices for living the faith in the home.

Importance of the Family

“As the family goes, so goes the nation, so goes the world in which we live.”
St. John Paul II

 The Family and the Trinity

“The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit” (Catechism, No. 2205).

Key to Family Unity

“The family that prays together stays together.”
St. John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta both said this

A Christian’s Motto

“I am third.”
(God is first, others are second.)

The Gospel on Five Fingers

Hold up one hand and count one word per finger (from Mother Teresa):
“I did it to him.”

Five Ways to Say I Love You

Words of affirmation
Quality time
Giving gifts
Acts of service
Physical touch
From Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.

How to Keep Your Kids Catholic

• Parents must be authentic Catholics themselves.
• Pray with and for them every day.
• Train them to understand what they believe.
Fr. John Hardon

Family Activities

Have a weekly family routine. A typical schedule:

Sunday – Family Day: Pilgrimage, museum or hike.
Monday – Family “Meeting:” Tell everyone the week’s plan.
All Week – Pray together daily: Schedule a nightly rosary.
Friday – Have fun: Game night or parents’ date night.
Saturday – Work together: Teach kids through projects.

Reading Aloud

Reading aloud to children encourages children to be readers, starts family conversations, improves vocabulary and pronunciation, makes learning entertaining, expands attention spans and deeply bonds parents and children.

Family Communication Rules

Your family member is not your enemy! Disagreements are opportunities to love and grow. Seek resolution, not victory.

When you speak
• Just state the facts – don’t interpret them or assume you know motives.
• No blanket statements – never say “you always” or “you never.”
• Don’t act out feelings – state them; with feelings, telling is better than showing.

When you listen
• Don’t interrupt – let the other finish and do your best to listen.
• Walk in their shoes – try to see the argument from their side.
• Repeat back what the other said – accurately and fairly.

When you finish
Always say “I’m sorry” when you realize you were wrong.
Always reply “I forgive you” to the words “I’m sorry.”
Important: It is not necessary to sound sorry. It is not necessary to sound forgiving. Saying the words is enough.

Serve the Poor

Deeds of service capture kids’ imagination more than pious words.

Volunteer:  Contact your diocese, parish or local Knights of Columbus (KofC.org) or seek other opportunities. Do something every month.
Donate: Choose effective Catholic organizations, especially the bishop’s or archbishop’s annual appeal.

Media Criteria

Rule of thumb: If you don’t want them to imitate it, don’t let them watch it.
Developmental studies warn that TV should be severely limited for children, particularly the youngest ones. Studies show that teens who watch mature TV shows have higher pregnancy rates. We all imitate what we watch.

Top 10 “Catholic” Movies *

According to a Gregorian Institute’s Top 100 Catholic Movies survey …

1.  The Passion of the Christ (2004)
2.  A Man for all Seasons (1966)
3.  The Sound of Music (1965)
4.  Les Miserables (2012)
5.  It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
6.  For Greater Glory (2012)
7.  The Scarlet and the Black (1983)
8.  The Song of Bernadette (1943)
9.  The Mission (1986)
10. Ben Hur (1959)

* Preview these and all movies before showing children; check IMDB.com Parents Guides.

Must-Have Books

The Bible (Catholic edition)
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (shorter Catechism including “Common Prayers” and “Formulas of Christian Doctrine”)


Receiving a good Catholic publication in your home reinforces your family’s Catholic identity and provides helps for Catholic living. Many of these “rules” originally appeared in The Catholic Digest and the National Catholic Register.

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes

Tom Hoopes, author of The Rosary of Saint John Paul II and The Fatima Family Handbook, is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas and hosts The Extraordinary Story podcast about the life of Christ. His book What Pope Francis Really Said is now available on Audible. A former reporter in the Washington, D.C., area, Hoopes served as press secretary of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman and spent 10 years as executive editor of the National Catholic Register newspaper and Faith & Family magazine. His work frequently appears in Catholic publications such as Aleteia.org and the Register. He and his wife, April, have nine children and live in Atchison, Kansas.