Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Diluted Faith

Come Holy Ghost! This is a scene
from the Pentecost Sunday Mass
at my favorite retreat spot.
A month or so ago, my husband’s first-born son visited us. He is a “cradle Catholic”, and went to Catholic schools all the way through high school.

I haven’t had much contact with my husband’s sons and their families over the last few years. They live in Southern California, and my husband flies down there to see them at least once a year, but the last time any of them came up this way was 5 years ago for our daughter’s high school graduation.

This time, it was just Chris, and he and I had several interesting conversations that involved some mention of Church issues. He expressed surprise when I mentioned the huge percentage of alleged Catholics who don’t believe that Our Lord is truly present in the Eucharist; he said he simply didn’t see how anyone could not believe it. He talked a little about the parish he attends when on vacation in Colorado each summer, and said that he enjoyed the Nigerian priest’s homilies because they were challenging.  

I asked Chris if he follows any Catholic news websites or blogs, and he said no. He doesn’t pay much attention to Catholic new, but is aware, of course, of some of the issues that have come to the surface due to secular coverage of Pope Francis’s “off-the-cuff” remarks. But he pays so little attention to actual Catholic news, that he has no idea about the crisis in the Church. In some ways, I think this is working for good, because Chris seems to easily hold on to his faith, even though the Church is under attack from within and without. He goes to Mass, and probably prays the Rosary at least now and then; and he asks for prayers when important events are coming up in his life.

Still, although he seems to hold fast to his Catholic morals, he and his cradle-Catholic (but essentially fallen-away) wife encouraged their children to make their own decision about whether or not to receive the sacrament of confirmation. As far as I know, all three have declined at this point, and two have attended Protestant “bible” colleges. The third is still in high school.

The altar really did look stunning; the
photo doesn't really do it justice.
So, while Chris may have held onto his faith – at least the faith he was taught as a child – he hasn’t really passed it on to his children. His oldest daughter has married outside the Church, with her parents’ blessing, and told me that she doesn’t consider herself to be Catholic. I suspect the second daughter is following suit. I have no idea where the third child stands – he’s in high school currently.

It makes me sad, though. Chris knows more than his children do, but he doesn’t seem to realize what they don’t know, and how important those missing elements are. Neither he nor his wife appears to grasp the importance of the sacraments, since they have let their children slide away from them.  It seems we always teach just a little less than what we know to our children, and they fill in the blanks with knowledge gleaned from other places. Sometimes that works, and sometimes they become misinformed.

I didn’t address any of this with Chris, since we had such limited time. Perhaps I will someday. But in the meantime, I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will move in Chris’s life to bring him more fully into the faith, and in his children’s lives to bring them back to a faith they have abandoned.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

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