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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Can You Lead a Mule to Water?

I have a 14 yr old daughter who refuses to go to Communion. When I talk about the grace she is missing out on, she tells me "You don't know that.". Same with Eucharist--"You don't know it's His body". 

I think it's the age. I hope it is, anyway. I worry about my daughter's soul. She does go to Mass with me but complains it's boring. She wants to attend a protestant church with a friend because it's "more fun" and I said "No". She thinks all christian religions are the same. I don't know how this happened. I had her baptized, she received her first communion, she went to religious instruction, we talk about God, we pray.

Maybe it's school..or maybe friends..or, hopefully, just teenage rebellion. 

It's scary to be a parent. It's scary to think that you are responsible for someone's soul. What if, when I face God, He tells me I failed her. I should have done _____ and _____ but I didn't. But for my parenting, she would have been more religious, more faithful. 

When I was a teenager, my brother and I (he was about 14) did a 30 day novena where we went to Mass and Communion every day for 30 days. We did it for our parents because my Dad was not attending Mass. How were we different from our own kids? Was it Catholic school?

Catholic school is so far out of my reach. Our school tuition is $750 a month and you must meet a fund raising goal (or they tack it on to your tuition) and volunteer for x number of hours per month. 

I'm a single mom with two kids. I would have to win the lotto to be able to send them.

I hope, when I face God, He doesn't tell me He's sorry He gave me these girls. I love them so much. I'm so grateful for them. But I worry.

I feel your pain.  Clergy and nuns face the worst suffering in Purgatory because we were responsible for your souls.  But on the next rung up the Purgatory suffering ladder are parents. 

But God won't be mad at you if you fail. He'll only be mad is you don't try or give up. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  It would be bad if you gave up on the horse, or didn't show him any water, but once the horse and the water are in the same place, it's up to the horse.

Or mule, as the case may be.

There is however one avenue you may try. The All Faiths Are Created Equal argument just doesn't hold water.  The Catholic Church is the church that Jesus established while He was alive on earth and ALL of the other Christian religious were founded because somebody was mad at somebody else. All Christians were Catholics until the 16th century when:

Martin Luther got mad at the Catholic Church (he was a Catholic priest) and the corruption of the times. He wasn't wrong. He put a list of grievances on the church door to open a discussion (which was how it was done back then). When the Church didn't respond the way he liked he quit. The Church did address the problems he had pointed out eventually. That's called the Reformation.  Luther's followers are called Lutherans.  They are followers of Jesus through the teaching of a Catholic priest who lived in the 16th century.

Around the same time, Henry the Eighth got mad that the Church would not approve of him divorcing his first wife so he could marry a younger woman in the hopes of begetting a son and heir.  He quit and founded the Anglican Church, which is called the Episcopal Church in the US.  The Anglicans and the Episcopals are the followers of Jesus through a guy who wanted to dump his wife for a new model.

Then Calvin took exception with some of the things Luther said. Those are the Calvinists. They are the followers of Jesus through a guy who was mad at Luther who was mad at the Catholic church.

And on and on until you have denominations sprung from denominations because they were mad that  the host is on a plate and not  in a basket or which way the pews face.

Meanwhile, and many people may disagree with me here, I don't see anything wrong with her visiting the other churches. Just don't let it take the place of Mass. Go to Saturday Mass. Go with her to her friend's church on Sunday. Study up on the denomination you're about to visit. See if you can find out the tenets of that faith (Good Luck with that, I have never been able to get separated brethren to explain the tenets of their faith past "I believe in Jesus").  

Make sure you bookmark the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" because you can look up just about anything and find out the Church's teachings and why we believe as we do.

By the way, how did the novena work out?


Donna. W said...

You are probably the smartest Catholic I have ever run across.

Joanhome2002 said...

Thank you, Sister, for your pithy description of Protestantism, it's a keeper. And for the Mom who posted the question; be faithful, keep at it and print and post this if it helps http://www.psalm40.org/dontquit.html

dre said...

My son didn't want to be confirmed at that age...he argued that he didn't know if the Catholic Church (or even the Christian faith!) was the right one for him, so he didn't want to make a commitment. I told him that he'd have to do some serious research, then! He'd have to go to Confirmation classes, and he'd have to research other possibilities so that he could make an informed decision. I would help him by going with him to visit other churches, assisting him in the library research (this was before the fabulous internet), and creating a grid to help him compare and contrast all the options.

His response? "Okay, I really just didn't want to go to the Confirmation classes! If I have to do more work to decide, I guess I have to admit I really go along with the Catholic beliefs. I'll just go to Confirmation class."

And he did.

dre said...

By the way, Sister, the separated brethren have catechisms as well (the Westminster catechism comes to mind), and statements of faith. Those should be available, probably online, if anyone is interested.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...


Yes, some Protestant denominations have chatechisms but as I understand it from my Pprotestant friends, they aren't really binding on the members. So you can read them to see where the denomination came from historically, but often they are kind of optional for the individual members or even for individual congregations. (I agree with Sr. Mary Martha: figuring out what Protestants believe is kind of like herding cats.)

Cynthia said...

How about the Orthodox Church?

Anonymous said...

I have kids, and I worry myself how they might turn out, and that I am not doing all the right things. But then I think, look at Adam and Eve. It's not like they didn't make mistakes and they can hardly blame their 'parent.'

Apiarist said...

St.Paul admonishes Timothy (and us) to hold firm to the sound doctrine of the Gospel in 2 Timothy 4:1-8 (Douay-Rheims)

1 I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming and his kingdom: 2 Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. 3 For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: 4 And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. 5 But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. 6 For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight: I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. 8 As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming. Make haste to come to me quickly.

Marion Teague said...

Thank you for those words of comfort. I have five children aged 16 to 24 and none of them have any interest in the Church or faith in God, and indeed like to say things to provoke. Their late father was also Catholic and they all went to Catholic secondary schools (they are not all private schools in the UK). I have always found it hard to talk to them about my faith because it goes too deep.

Unknown said...

Dear SMM,

I'm with Cynthia. The Catholic and Orthodox churches got into an argument about power in 1054 and split the sheets. We separated brethren split off many fewer people in the 1500's.
Of course Jesus' followers through the ages have behaved badly...

Disciple Chic said...

Maybe try another 30 day Novena for your daughter. I know our Catholic faith is the one true religion, but its also true that other churches are seriously competing for their attention. We all need to pray hard!!!

Wendy said...

I would like to encourage the writer NOT to urge her daughter to receive communion when she does not believe in the Real Presence - to receive when you do not believe is a serious sin.

My suggestion would be to go to the Catholic Answers website and read up on explanations of the Faith, especially the Mass, and then discuss them with your daughter. watching Fr. Barron's Catholicism series together would also be good.

Does your parish have a youth group?

It sounds to me like you are taking this very seriously, so, like Padre Pio says, "Pray, trust, and don't worry!"

I'll be praying for you and your daughter!

Anonymous said...

Question for Sister Mary Martha: I know that saying, "Oh my God" is using God's name in vain and is against the ten commandments, but what about, "Oh my gosh"?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much to all who offered advice (and especially prayers) for my daughter.

Dre: I suspect that my daughter also wants to avoid the work! I'm going to try your strategy! I was thinking of with holding a driver's license until confirmation and she said she wasn't really interested in getting a license. Eek. She leaves me speechless sometimes.

Anonymous: I didn't think about Adam & Eve (as parents) and you're right. I remember being so mad at Adam & Eve after my son died. I thought, had they not sinned, this wouldn't have happened. Of course, it wouldn't have been long before someone was fooled by the devil so really, it didn't matter in the long run.

Apirist: I love St Paul. I love reading his letters. Talk about an inspiration for those in hard times. He is the strongest example for the truth of Christ. First, because he sought to destroy christianity. And second, because of the pain he indured for Christ. If Christ had been just a 'good guy'/prophet, would St Paul have suffered so much to spread the Word? I use that argument with my brother a lot. He thinks being a 'good person' is enough. Jesus was just a 'good guy' but not the Son of God. I ask him, "Would YOU die for something that was just a prank that you and your friends dreamt up? If your friend was executed for his 'prank', would you continue the prank and sacrifice your own life to keep it going? He had no answer or that.

Katie: I'm going to do another 30 days novena. It's hard. I guess that's why the indulgence is so great (it promises that you and a soul you choose will get to heaven. you might not avoid purgatory but you'll die in God's grace). And the devil puts a lot of obstacles in place. I remember my mother fighting with me over going to Mass every day. And I thought "Why is she fighting with me? She's the one who encourages my faith. She's the one who takes me to Mass.". But I think it was a form of temptation to give up. But we didn't give up. Both my brother & I did the whole 30 days. It was a great blessing for both of us.

Wendy: I haven't forced her to receive -although I've encouraged it. I haven't thought about it being a sin. I think I was hoping that the grace of Communion would jolt her soul. Inject some faith where there is no faith. We do have a youth group but she doesn't want any part of it. The priest said drive her up and dump her at the curb. Easier said that done. About two weeks ago, she told me she wasn't going to Mass. I said "Get up and get ready. You're going". She continued the "I'm not going" argument as I got ready to leave. When she said "You can't make me", I said "No. But I'll probably pull your arm out of it's socket as I'm dragging you to the car.". She was quiet for a minute and then got up and got ready. I don't think she seriously thought I would drag her to the car. But I think she knew I was serious about her not missing Mass. Or maybe she DID think I'd try to drag her to the car. Either way, it worked. Maybe I'll try that with the youth group. I love Padre Pio. Thank you for your prayers!

Sister: Thank you for your comments. I'm so grateful for your blog. I don't want to fail God. And I definately won't give up.

To the person who posted the link to the poem: It's beautiful. I printed it out.

Anonymous said...

Sister: About the 30 days novena, my brother said it for himself and my dad. I said it for myself and my mom. We were mostly worried about my dad. He was a good Catholic until was about 6. Then, he stopped going to Mass. I never saw him go to communion-even when he attended Mass for a wedding or funeral. He lived alone in another state. When I got the call that he was dying, I drove to Pennsylvania. The doctor said they had to revive him twice. I called a priest who gave him the last rites. He stopped breathing. His heart stopped. We cried. I asked him to hug Angel for me. Then the heart monitor started showing activity again. Then he died.

I had Masses read for him over the last year (he died in January 2012). A few months ago, about 15 months after my dad died, my 8 year old woke up and said "I had a dream about heaven!". I said "Was it pretty?" and she said "Mommy! It's full of flowers!" and she was excited as she said it. She said "I saw your daddy and he was painting pictures for you. He's going to give them to you when you get to heaven. And Angel was there and he was playing while your dad was painting".

I couldn't believe it. Hanna only saw my father once when she was a baby. He was too ill to travel and I didn't like traveling back to my home town. When I was little, my dad loved to paint. But my mother discouraged him. She didn't want him to paint. She wanted him to volunteer to help her with the kids or do things around the house. He once painted a picture of two babies climbing a flight of stairs. My mom told him it looked like a "paint by numbers" picture. He was crushed. He put away his art supplies and I never saw him paint again. Hanna never knew that. I had forgotten about it until Hanna told me she saw my father painting pictures for me.

The novena worked. I know it.

Alexandra said...

Close enough...thanks!