I suspect it might surprise you — because it certainly surprised me — that one of the things that deacon candidates and ordained deacons had in common was that the majority of them were worried about the salvation of the souls of their children.
What’s that you ask? Deacons? Worried about the salvation of their children? How can that be. I mean deacons are holy and they are always around the Church and their kids are all raised the way they should be, right? Not so. Not so.
One of our closest deacon couple friends have four children, as we do. The kids were all raised to love and respect the Catholic faith. And if any of them are really practicing the faith today — I’d be surprised. One even married in a Buddhist ceremony. So what can go wrong in the faith walk of any family can and often does go wrong in Catholic deacon families.
There are some matters that I preach and write about. It’s easy for me to pontificate when it’s theory. It’s a far different matter when it’s the real world and you and your kids are living it. Colleges are breeding grounds for faith erosion and destruction. This is true for many so-called Catholic colleges. (Choose wisely!) In my homilies — I’ll often talk about faith that needs to be lived and internalized rather than just ‘practiced.’ Practicing the faith means you go to Church every Sunday — you pretty much practice the major areas of the faith. But it’s never talked about at home. It’s never discussed and struggled over at home. It’s not so much practiced at home — and so it winds up sending kids off to college with what seems like a set of practices that the folks did but that don’t have all that much relevance to the college freshmen.
However — I am so pleased to tell you that there is hope. Hope comes in many flavors. First — several good Catholic colleges are graduating a new breed of faith leaders. Schools like Franciscan University, Ave Maria and others are sending theology and philosophy and evangelism majors out into the workplace. They are finding jobs in diocesan chanceries, retreat centers and schools and parishes. While this alone is a small percentage of what is needed — people willing and capable of teaching good, orthodox, adopt-it-as-your-own Catholic faith are becoming noticeable.
Next — Catholic young people are finding more places where the faith confronts them, even if they aren’t looking for it. iTunes and many New Media venues (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube) are offering testimony and faith ‘explosion’ experiences in great numbers. I will admit that these wholesome new faith experiences exist right beside and keystrokes away from the most terrible of things on the internet. But wholesome young people who have found a real relationship with Jesus and His Church will and do offer an appealing alternative to the filth of the world.
Here’s another area that gives me hope. Recently, on our own Catholic Vitamins Podcast, we interviewed a young woman from the Direction For Our Times organization. Haven’t heard of it? I hope you’ll look into it — because there is ‘conversion material’ for people who are deeply in love with their faith. And there is conversion material for people who are looking for Truth. DFOT was started in Ireland by a faithful Catholic woman named Anne. And, with permission of her bishop, DFOT has been publishing a lot of the work and words of Jesus and Mary, as (seemingly) passed by them through Anne by ‘locutions.’ I know. I know. It sounds a bit much. But let me share what Jesus has said to and about parents who worry about their children.
In part and with Jesus speaking: “Perhaps you have always followed Me but your children have strayed from the faith and are spending their time in the world, away from Me. This causes you grief, I know. Pray for your children, but do not become overly preoccupied with your worry about them. If you are connected with Me, I will be with your children. I will wait for a moment when their hearts are open to Me, and I will fill them with graces, healing their wounds and softening their hearts. I do this often for holy parents and I will do this for you.”
I think we have the makings of a wonderful solution. Stay holy in your own life. Trust in Jesus, and He will provide the graces necessary to recoup the earlier years of groundwork you did. And in the meanwhile — if an adult child begins to soften and ask you inquiry questions — smile in your heart, thank Jesus, whisper to the Holy Spirit for guidance. And then answer in Truth and from your heart.
ps: Let me know if you’d like to know more about Direction For Our Times or the words of Jesus for parents who worry about their children’s salvation.