Last Sunday while I was at Mass, I had a very sobering experience. After receiving holy communion and walking silently back to my seat, I knelt down to spiritually reflect on the sacrament of communion that I had just received.
That is when it hit me.
While praying, I noticed how extremely quiet the church was. No whispering, no crying sounds from babies, no parents admonishing young children. Absolutely nothing. I looked around me and I noticed that there were but a handful of older children and even less teenagers. The other thing that hit me was that the majority of the faithful were what I would call retirees and senior citizens.
Where were the future faithful? Where were all of the young children that would take the Church into the next generation? Where were the families – both fathers and mothers with children?
I further reflected on this. I estimated that within 10 years, much of the congregation sitting with me would be making its way to heaven. Who would replace those empty seats? I had already been through one church closing, would I have to experience another one? Where is the future of our Church?
As a Christian I get frustrated listening to excuses from parents who leave children at home to play video games or watch TV or sleep in from staying up late the night before.
How, as a community of faith, are we to carry on the teachings of the Lord our God Jesus Christ when we allow the future of the Church simply to remain absent for our Father’s home? Where will these children get their moral teaching? How will they be able to understand right from wrong when they get older? How will they handle ethical challenges when they are on their own and have to make such decisions or choices?
Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II said this about the baptism of children:
“We… lay the foundation of New Christian Lives: in these beloved of the Father, redeemed by Christ, signed with the seal of the Spirit, the object of eternal preference which already projects itself into the future, and into the whole of eternity, in a love without end….”
Our role as Christian parents does not end with the baptism of our child. The baptism is just the beginning of a great wondrous journey for the child. As a Christian parent it is your role to guide your children along this journey until your children are able to take flight on their own and start their own personal journey to Christ our Lord. By ‘abandoning’ your child at home or giving in to excuses that keeps them there, you are negligent in your role as a parent and your fulfillment of the baptismal promise.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly lays out the Christian parental responsibility of those in the Catholic faith:
“Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the ‘first heralds’ for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life.” (2225)
At the risk of upsetting my fellow Christian parents, I would consider it child neglect not to foster the Catholic faith in the child from their earliest years since, as a parent, you have left your child at a spiritual and ethical disadvantage – in essence you have potentially cut your child off from a wondrous spiritual life. Additionally, unknowingly, you become the architect of the slow methodical dismantling of the Church and its historical good works.
If I have hurt you with the truth and garnered your wrath, then that is a risk I am willing to take for my faith and my Lord Jesus Christ. God Bless you and your children.
Copyright © 2013, Luciano Corbo