By Mary Kretzmann
The spiritual seasons of the year have nudged me to think about what inspiration I want to share with my kids, depending on their ages at the time. This all started when they were little and I knew they would be captivated by Santa and the Easter Bunny, etc. I used that momentum to slip in some age-appropriate spiritual substance, often from our collection of beautiful, spiritual books for children.
Sometimes we had casual events with our neighbors who had the same age children. For instance, some years, as Easter drew near, we had a special supper with our neighbors, followed by a commemoration of the Last Supper of Jesus. We winged it using flat bread, grape juice, and reading words from the Bible. What struck me, in the warm afterglow of the full meal we had just shared, was how involved the kids were; it was respectful, yet casual. They each seemed very willing to have their turn to read a few sentences before passing the Bible on to the next person. They wanted to be part of it. And this was a welcome balance (for the moms) to the upcoming Easter candy routine.
We did special things leading up to Christmas, and to the birthday of our guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. I can write about those when the time comes closer again.
These spiritual seasons help me to take stock, and freshen up my act, as needed. Truth be told, once they hit the teen years, it was harder to be as consistent with the inspiration on a daily level, so the seasonal bursts helped us return to our spiritual roots as a family.
Now, as Easter again approaches, our youngest son is in high school. I see Lent as a time to focus on our guru’s teachings on the life of Jesus Christ. The 40 days of Lent honor Jesus’ fast of 40 days in the desert. So, I’ve told my kids, only hald jokingly, that 40 days of just about anything is easier than a 40 day fast in the desert. With that pitch, they might opt to do something privately, but at least they’ll go along with hearing about the life of Christ each night after dinner…especially if I keeping it short, sweet, and interesting.
One of my main resources for helping family devotionis The Second Coming of Christ, The Resurrection of the Christ Within You by Paramhansa Yogananda. When I read this book, I feel close to both Yogananda and Jesus, but I don’t read it cover to cover. Sometimes I pray over the book, asking, “What do You want me to see today?” and then opening the book, my eyes fall upon words that are wondrously alive and helpful to my personal spiritual journey. I have been in awe at how deeply, precisely, and personally God has guided me with this book. It is a true, timeless scripture written by our great Master, giving a pathway the living, mystical, presence of Jesus.
Other times I go to the chapters that pertain to the season, such as the Last Supper, Good Friday and the Resurrection, as well as Christmas. I’ve also been deeply inspired by the chapters on Christ’s healing miracles. Paramhansa Yogananda wrote deep commentary on all four of the gospels, over the last 20 years of his life, as installments printed in his magazine. The very last one coincided with his Mahasamadhi (conscious exit from the body).
Paramhansa Yogananda visited Therese Neumann in Germany in 1935, and verified the truth of her visions of Jesus’ life in Autobiography of a Yogi, CHAPTER 39; Therese Neumann, the Catholic Stigmatist. Accordingly, based on that endorsement, I sometimes use The Visions of Therese Neumann, by Johannes Steiner (currently out of print, but still available). This fascinating book details many of her visions of the life of Christ. But read it to yourself first before plunging ahead with your kids! Choose wisely! Read these things ahead of time, then pick out some short sections to share with the family. Try to keep it simple. We share in the reading, depending on how people feel that evening. If I have done my part well, they are grateful. I tailor it for the youngest family member, looking for enlightening, inspiring stories.
This guided use of the Second Coming of Christ is really only suited for kids in high school on up. If your children are young, I would suggest you simply read it for yourself, a bit here and there, to build your own inspiration. It will stand you in good stead when your kids are older and start asking tough questions about God, and religion. And you might find some stories here and there to paraphrase to your children.
Invent it as you go. Much of what we share with our children springs from the things that we find most inspiring. In a future chapter, I will list a few of the children books we have in our home. But you will find many inspiring books for children at this link: Inner Path Books for Children
May you be blessed.
For Further Inspiration:
Revelations of Christ: Proclaimed by Paramhansa Yogananda, Presented by His Disciple, Swami Kriyananda
This book contains many spiritual gems. Chapter 23, “The Missing Years” has fascinating information on the lost years of Jesus. Paramhansa Yogananda said that Jesus spent those years in India, and this chapter backs it up…It’s absolutely wonderful. It is difficult to do the book justice in this small space, so please visit the website for Free excerpts:
Click here: “Revelations of Christ: Proclaimed by Paramhansa Yogananda, Presented by His Disciple, Swami Kriyananda”
And finally, finally, here is a quote from an article on Therese Neumann in Soul Curry magazine: http://soulcurrymagazine.com/sc/therese-neumann.html
Quote from article: The Great Indian saint Paramahansa Yogananda visited Therese Neumann and wrote about her in his book Autobiography of a Yogi. He wrote an entire chapter- Therese Neumann, The Catholic Stigmatist – which reverently gives a vivid first-hand description of one of her Friday passion trances. Yogananda later said that in her past life Therese was Mary Magdalene and that the purpose of her existence was to show – like Giri Bala – that it is possible to live on God’s Light alone.