The Catholic View
The Catholic View is a weekly, one-hour series we are putting on in our parish every Thursday from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. and features a 25-minute talk by Fr. Charles or a guest priest on various topics that are of interest to inquiring Catholic minds. Following the given talk there is a time of refreshment and fellowship before a time where any questions pertaining to the subject presented or any other questions will be addressed both by Fr. Charles or our Parish Catechist, Patrick Sullivan.
Child care is available. Admission is free.
(Please enter the Parish Hall via the Carson Street [North] entrance to the hall.)
The subject for the talk this week – Thursday, Feb. 13, is: Raising Catholic Children
Addressing the Loss of the Practice of Faith
Last Thursday evening at our first weekly The Catholic View talk I discussed the topic of “Returning Catholics”. Inevitably a talk on this subject matter would necessarily touch on an issue that is worrisome to many Catholic parents regarding their own children who no longer practice their Catholic faith. While I offered suggestions akin to never giving up hope and the importance and effectiveness of praying for ones non-practicing children, some who are even old enough to have their own children, many parents still feel that somehow they did something wrong in the way they passed the faith on to them.
This is a most familiar topic of discussion between priests and Catholic parents. It usually comes up in a more private conversation as many parents think they are the only ones who are dealing with the issue of non-church attending offspring. The reality is that it is part and parcel of the story of the last couple of generations. God isn’t being denied by grown-ups who had the faith and lost it so much as God is being crowded out by their busy, often self-centred lives.
This past week on Feb. 4, the readings for the daily Mass were from 2nd Samuel where King David mourns and weeps for his lost son, Absalom while in the Gospel from St. Mark, Jesus heals the woman who had suffered with a hemorrhage for over 12 years while he is on his way to Jairus’ house whose daughter has already died but whom Jesus raises back to life. These readings were most fitting for the subject of children who seem dead to the idea and truth of the spiritual life in Christ.
Once again, Catholic writer Mark Mallett addressed these very readings with a most apt message of hope for all those who go their own way from a life of faith and who in turn raise their own children without a sense of lived faith in God. (Fr. Charles)
(To find the daily Mass readings for this article, simply go to: usccb.org/bible/readings/020414.cfm
Raising Our Dead Children
THERE are so many little thoughts I have from today’s readings, but they all center around this: the grief of parents who have watched their children lose their faith. Like David’s son Absalom in today’s first reading, their children are caught “somewhere between heaven and earth”; they have ridden the mule of rebellion straight into the thicket of sin, and their parents feel helpless to do a thing about it.
And yet, so many of these parents that I have met do not look down upon their children with wrath and scorn, like the soldiers in today’s first reading. Rather, they are more like King David… He looked at the soul of his son, created in the image of God, and held hope that its innocence could be restored. He tried to love his son like the Good Samaritan loved the beaten man on the side of the road. Yes, David loved like the Father loved us.
I am certain that when Adam fell into sin, God cried out like David in today’s first reading:
My son [Adam]! My son, my son [Adam]! If only I had died instead of you, [Adam], my son, my son!
And so He did… God became man and died for us. That is the love of the Father and Jesus Christ, and I see so many parents reflect this self-giving, undying love.
But then, I also see parents who punish themselves, as if this will bring their children back into the fold. “I should’ve done this better; I shouldn’t have done that,” and so on. They are like Jairus, perhaps, who when he saw his daughter becoming sick, sought out Jesus. But by the time the Lord arrived at his house, his daughter had died. Maybe Jairus and his wife said to themselves, “We’ve blown it. It’s too late. We should’ve done more. Our child is too far gone. We didn’t do enough, it’s my fault, it’s your fault, it’s the genes on your side of the family’s fault…. etc.” But to you parents who despair like this, Our Lord also says to you:
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
That is, nothing is impossible for God.
First of all, Jesus did hear Jairus’ intercession for his daughter and immediately set on His way to heal her. So too, dear parents, God has heard your cry to save your children and has immediately set upon the way to save them. Do not doubt this! There is no one in the heavens or on earth who wants to save your children more than Jesus Christ who shed His blood for them! He is the Good Shepherd who at once leaves the ninety-nine sheep to look for the lost sheep caught in the thicket of sin.1
“But my children left the Church 25 years ago,” you might say. Yes, and Jesus didn’t take the shortcut to Jairus’ home either because if He had, the hemorrhaging woman might never have been cured. You see, God can make all things work to the good for those who love Him. But you need to let God do things His way—He’s got a big plan going! And your child has free will, and so you ultimately have to let them do things their way. So while everything in your family looks like a mess, Jesus turns now to you as He did to Jairus and says,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Faith like this woman who hemorrhaged for twelve years. The Gospel says she “spent all she had” looking for a cure. Yes, so many parents have spent themselves saying rosaries, this novena, that devotion, this prayer… and yet, nothing changes—or so it seems. But Jesus says again to you:
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
What brought about the cure of Jairus’ daughter? What brought about the healing of the hemorrhaging woman? Jairus and his wife had to go beyond the “ridicule” being hurled at them and Jesus for believing that their daughter could be saved. The woman likewise had to push beyond all the obstacles, all the doubts, all the seeming impossibilities she faced… and simply touch the hem of Christ. What I am speaking of here is not positive thinking, rather, it is “poverty” thinking: recognizing that I ultimately cannot control anything, but with faith the size of a mustard seed, my God can move mountains. It is the prayer of today’s Psalm:
Incline your ear, O LORD; answer me, for I am afflicted and poor. Keep my [child’s life], for I am devoted to you;
save your [servant’s child because I trust] in you.
And some day, somewhere, Jesus will turn to your child, even if it is in their very last breath,and say:
“Little child, I say to you, arise!”