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Religious Habits

Over the past few weeks, we’ve enjoyed a little jaunt through Charlotte Mason’s five categories of habits: decency and propriety, mental habits, moral habits, and physical habits. Today we’ll round out the five categories by looking at religious habits.

In Charlotte’s Philosophy of Education, she stated, “Of the three sorts of knowledge proper to a child,—the knowledge of God, of man, and of the universe,—the knowledge of God ranks first in importance, is indispensable, and most happy-making” (Vol. 6, p. 158). It stands to reason, then, that Charlotte would encourage habits related to the knowledge of God.

The habits she espoused in this category are

  • Regularity in Devotions (including Prayer, Reading the Bible, and Praise)

    Charlotte encouraged us to model and teach our children to develop a daily habit of prayer (both spontaneous and scheduled), of reading the Bible (reading it to a child until he is old enough to read it for himself), and of praise expressed in music.

  • Reverent Attitude

    A reverent attitude is “a little apt to be overlooked in these days,” Charlotte remarked. We don’t need to be locked into formalism, but we should teach our children to demonstrate a worshipful demeanor during family devotions and at church services.

  • Sunday-Keeping

    Sunday activities should be “not rigid, not dull” but “special to the day,—quiet, glad, serene.” What a gift to give our children the habit of a change of pace one day of each week that brings refreshment to body and mind! Charlotte urged us to make Sundays pleasant and to “keep the heart at peace and the mind alive and receptive, open to any holy impression which may come from above, it may be in the fields or by the fireside.”

  • Thanksgiving

    In a short passage in Volume 4, Charlotte encouraged parents to give children “the continual habit of thanksgiving,” for specific answered prayer as well as spontaneous thanks in everything.

  • Thought of God

    What a responsibility to direct our children into the habit of right thinking about God—and throughout each day’s events! “Of the child it should be said that God is in all his thoughts; happy-making, joyous thoughts, restful and dutiful thoughts.” Think how your life would be different today if, as a child, you had cultivated the habit of practicing the presence of God and a right understanding of the character of God. “To keep a child in this habit of the thought of God—so that to lose it for even a little while, is like coming home after an absence and finding his mother out—is a very delicate part of a parent’s work.”

Looking back over the more than fifty habits we’ve studied these past weeks, it’s easy to see why Charlotte held that the discipline of habits is at least one-third of a child’s education. It’s a big job! But if we approach this part of education intentionally, we will be laying down “lines of habit on which the life of the child may run henceforth with little jolting or miscarriage, and may advance in the right direction with the minimum of effort.”

Well, this is the first time we tackled a series of posts on one topic: habits. What do you think? Would you like more series on other topics? If so, what topics would you like to see? Let us know!

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7 Responses to “Religious Habits”

  1. Wendy Abel February 23, 2007 at 11:19 pm #

    I only recently discovered and signed up for these newsletters at the tail end of the Habits series, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen so far! I find it very helpful to break up a single topic such as this into a series of smaller “bites” such as these to make them easier to chew and more digestible. Thank you for your efforts! Keep up the great work!

  2. Jennifer at wonderfulpages.com February 24, 2007 at 10:58 am #

    I thoroughly enjoyed the series on habits and look forward to more!

  3. Heather W. February 24, 2007 at 11:35 am #

    I love getting the newsletters. I like the segmental treatment of Charlotte Mason’s work into “topics”. There is a wealth of information in her volumes. So, which ever topic you choose, I am sure there will be a lot to learn for our benefit. I can’t think of any one topic I would like to read about more than another. Thank you for sharing your insight!

    To be fair, the only thing I would like to see different is the inclusion of more (or better) citation of CM’swork. It is better for people’s digestion if you provide references to specific Volumes and Chapters–and, if possible, to even include page numbers. Just like in Bible studies, I think it is appropriate to have the work referenced properly so that I can look up and read the orignal text for myself.

    Keep feeding the masses! I love what you’re doing. Thank you!

    • Sonya February 24, 2007 at 12:38 pm #

      Thanks so much for your feedback about citing the source of CM quotes we include in the e-mails. I, too, love to know detailed sources when someone uses a quote, but I was concerned that all those parenthetical citations might disrupt the flow of the reading. Your feedback helped a lot, and I will happily add all the quote citations from now on 🙂

      Grace and peace,

      Sonya

  4. Ang February 27, 2007 at 10:45 am #

    I really took to heart the information on religious habits. I would like to see information on the topic of advice from CM on dealing with people. I am always having to try to help my son deal with the other kids in the neighborhood in a respectful and peaceful way , while the other kids are anything but respectful and peaceful. In fact, at times, they seem to me to be down-right dangerous and intentionally hurtful. My son has a very tenderhearted and thoughtful nature about him and being the only homeschooled kid in the neighborhool as well as a religious minority; not participating in holidays and avoiding certain mainstream violent or demonic games, he is quite set-up for confrontation daily. Is their advice on dealing with insolent persons?

    • Sonya February 27, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

      Hi, Ang –

      You hit the nail on the head when you used the words “respectful” and “peaceful.” Those are indeed the character traits that Charlotte urged in dealing with others, along with kindness, courtesy, patience, and candor. It sounds like your situation fits right into Charlotte’s description in Volume 1, page 166: “As for reverence, consideration for others, respect for persons and property, I can only urge the importance of a sedulous cultivation of these moral qualities — the distinguishing marks of a refined nature — until they become the daily habits of the child’s life; and the more, because a self-assertive, aggressive, self-seeking temper is but too characteristic of the times we live in.” Sad but true.

      I have not found a place where she directly addresses how to deal with insolent persons. (If someone reading this has found such a passage, please let us know.) However, I would recommend the wonderful, Biblical principles that Peacemaker Ministries teaches. Their material directly addresses how to deal with conflict Biblically, and you can read some great articles on their site. It sounds like you are on the same track, so I only mention it in case their unique way of presenting the concepts might be helpful to you and your son — not only in the hopes of resolving the conflict but also in how your son views these confrontations.

      Grace and peace,

      Sonya

  5. Nancy Schwab May 31, 2007 at 11:54 pm #

    I would like to echo the preceding comments. The focus on habits has been very helpful and I also appreciate the small “bites” of information. I am new to this website and to Charlotte Mason philosophy in general. This has been our first official year to homeshool and I am so thankful to have found CM and this website.

    Keep up the good work!

    God bless,

    Nancy

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