This month’s article for the CWBN Blog Hop sounded simple, and yet turned out more complex the more I thought about the topic. Click the image directly below to be taken to a directory of some other fabulous contributors to this particular topic this month!
What steps am I taking now to keep my children Catholic?
First off, I need to start by saying I have no intention of “keeping” my children Catholic. I refuse to take on guilt if my children leave the Catholic Faith.
I also grew up listening to stories of my paternal grandmother crying for the soul of my paternal grandfather. Grandma was Catholic, Papa was Methodist. This was pre-Vatican II, so her interpretation was, upon his death, he would not be awarded entrance into heaven… because he wasn’t Catholic. (There’s a story in that for another time…)
When I married my husband, I succinctly informed him I would not spend time crying for his conversion – instead, I would continue to pray that God reveals the fullness of the intimacy I find with God through the Catholic Church to him.
He agreed to allow our children to be raised in the Church, receiving the Catholic Sacraments and attending Mass.
Which brings me to what I am doing with the hope my children maintain their Catholic Faith as adults:
1. I pray for my children. I pray for them every day – usually, the Guardian Angel prayer. However, I have been known to feel compelled to ask God that they be open and receptive to Him, and learn to be champions for God. I pray they learn to seek Him, and they are able to find Him in their lives, and they are able to defend Him throughout their lives. Part of that defense leads to my next action step…
2. I am teaching them the Faith. The faith with a capital “F” – meaning, the Catholic Faith. I have learned through my own trial and error that Catholicism is full of nuances and intricacies. Every year, I learn more. We are starting at the basics right now – their prayers. As I have said before, and will continue to say, parents are called to evangelize to their children – we are called to spread the Good News of Jesus and the Gospel to our children. This includes teaching the times to ask God for help, and a time to praise God.
3. I am teaching them about the Works of Mercy and the Golden Rule. In a hands-on way, I am bringing the Works of Mercy alive for my children, teaching them both the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. We physically perform these works for others – they see us (as their parents) doing good for others, and are encouraged to do the same. Thankfully, the Catholic Church also has a host of saints, souls we know (through the proof of miracles) made it to our ultimate goal (and reward) – heaven! Therefore, I am able to pick any age person, at any stage in life, facing any obstacle, and use his (or her) example to encourage my children to continue following God’s path.
4. I take my children to Mass. every. Holy. Day, and to other Sacraments. My oldest has seen the inside of a Confessional since he was about the age my daughter is now… eighteen months old. He is routinely on hand for Confession. Our children attend Mass on every Holy Day of Obligation–and sometimes in the middle of the week. I have been known to explain to our son that God asks only a few things of us – one is that we are good to every. person. we. meet; the other is that we attend His church every Sunday, and sometimes some other days during the year. By attending, I hope I am teaching my son the importance of following through on commitments, but also that Church (and the Sacraments) aren’t some big, scary ordeal. Instead, they are simply a fact of living a Catholic Christian life.
5. I am encouraging a personal relationship with God. In no other faith tradition have I been able to find the closeness with God that I find in the Catholic Church. Our children go with me to Adoration… not simply because I can’t find a babysitter; but, instead, they go with me because I want them to know and love God’s house, and know and love Jesus. Adoration is unique to the Catholic Faith, and it is beautiful – there are countless Adoration conversion stories out there, and I truly believe Christ works on the hearts of all who are present with Him. So, I currently
drag take them with me (our chaplain reassured me what I feel as dragging is simply our son being a boy) to spend a little extra quality time with Jesus.
6. I’m honest with them. Sometimes, I don’t want to go to Church. Sometimes, I’m not feeling God working in my life. Sometimes, I struggle with praying. But, I share those (age-appropriate) struggles with them. I try to let them know when I’m not feeling the desire, simply so they see me power through the motions. I fully expect, someday, to share my faith journey with them, too, highlighting we all go through periods where we must each, as individuals, open ourselves up to the goodness and intimacy with God, and allow Him into our lives. I want them to know it is okay to struggle, but to know it is important, in any (healthy) relationship, to power through the struggle – to stick with it, and to help the relationship reach the fullest potential. I want them to know there will be times in our lives where we won’t feel God’s presence, and that is okay… it’s what we do during those periods which will be the most telling.
At the end of the day, I can only do so much. I can’t make them stay Catholic. But, I can pray for, and with them. I can hope they see the beauty in the Catholic Faith. I can teach them “Why Catholics Believe,” what we believe, and teach them how to defend the Catholic Faith.
But, I can’t keep them Catholic.
In parenting lingo, they will ultimately be given two choices: be Catholic, or not.
They, as all of us, have free will.
They will have to choose.
This is the beauty of God and His relationship with all of us – the concept of free will.
And, like all of us, my children will have to face the consequences (either positive or negative) of their choice.
As a mother, I would like to force them to choose the path which will make it to heaven, and I can do some of that while they are children. But, in the end, I must rely on my faith, the steps I outlined above, and turn my desire to control everything in their future over to the One who made it all possible.
God created us to adore Him – I have to have faith they will respond to His calling, and turn to accept His loving embrace!