“Pray for us, Father! None of our children go to Holy Mass anymore.” This is the refrain of almost every parent over 50 years of age that I have met over the past 20 years. “Oh! They are good children, Father,” the mothers and dads are quick to add, “but they do not see the value nor the necessity of practicing their faith.” Fallen away Catholics have become the biggest denomination in the United States of America today. The leakage from Church has become a flood. The parents explain their hurt: “We have sent them to parochial schools, to CCD, to Catholic colleges and universities. I don’t think we could have done anything more for their Christian formation. We tried to set the right example. When they were youngsters, we prayed together in our home. Where did we go wrong?” There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people responding. It may be unfair to generalize here; but let me try to touch on some of the reasons.
Even under the best of conditions, it is difficult to keep the Catholic faith and live Christian morality with conviction uninterruptedly from tender years. Some parents, some pastors, some teachers may be blamed if they did not live up to their responsibilities to teach the faith so as to pass its truth on with authenticity and credibility to their charges. The Culture of Death with its drugs and alcohol, its immodesty, pornography, permissiveness, contraception, and promiscuity permeates the atmosphere almost everywhere. Satan is clutching for the hearts of so many of our young men and women that immorality seems to be the norm. How long will this long, bleak winter last?
Is there any hope for our children and our children’s children? Perhaps in your despair you have written our youth off, or even given up on them altogether. Their problem is compounded when addictions have taken our lives, when they have been blinded by their passions, or have become smothered with influences that belittle the faith, now disdained and mocked on all sides. Perhaps greed, lust, and the proud ego trip has left them no time for God and His will. They sense no need for the Lord. They feel content without Him, or they are ashamed by their guilt and fears into hiding from His presence. More pressing priorities have taken over their life.
Should parents threaten their adult children with a shock treatment of impending or eternal damnation? What will turn the young generation around to face reality or to consider the reason for their existence in this world? Will they find happiness where their lives are taking them now? And how about the hereafter? Does God have any expectations for them? Their greatest fear is that Jesus meant what He said. Their greatest joy could be that Jesus meant what He said. Jesus Christ is the one they will have to answer to. They might not want to listen to our preaching, but they will have to give the Lord a hearing some time. He is God and He proved it by rising from the dead. He lived for me, He died for me, He rose for me, and He loves me. I will not throw my lot in with everybody else. He established His Church: He who hears you hears Me, He said; and He promised He would be with His Church all days even to the end of the word.
Like Saul of Tarsus, it is the Risen Lord they are trying to avoid. Where on earth would they find Jesus just as He is not in heaven with His Glorified Risen Body? It is in the Holy Eucharist! Jesus Christ is there: Body, Blood, Soul and Divine Nature. He is the one we encounter when we go to Holy Mass and receive Him in Holy Communion. He is the same yesterday, today, and the same forever. He has the answer, He is the answer for all the problems of the world including our own. Accept His Easter present: His loving mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. He has gone before us. We never have to go it alone. Then our Exodus is into His arms wide-opened.