No One To Blame But Ourselves

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

Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo

Luciano Corbo holds a Master of Arts - Integrated Studies from Athabasca University. His major interests are Culture, Work, Organizations and Leadership, within a context of Catholic Social Teaching Principles. He writes from Canada.

5 responses to “No One To Blame But Ourselves”

  1. Sully says:

    Were you sitting in the front or back. All us with the noisy kids are jockeying for those last pews in the back. Ormaybe you were at an earlier Mass, I’m lucky to have my kids in shape and in a pew by noon. I’ve never understood that actually, how I can have them out to school by 7:30 but the earliest Mass we can make is 12. Its like different laws of time and physics apply on Sunday.

  2. Luciano Corbo says:

    Sully, thank you for your response.

    I was sitting in the middle of the Church. When I was younger, if you were not ‘early’ enough, there was ‘standing room only’ and most of those standing at times were the children since the church pews were taken by the more senior members of the church. It was wonderful to observe. I have seen this ‘age -gap’ pattern repeated over and over in many churches that I have attended recently.
    I liked your comment about getting the children out by 730 am to school yet it is difficult to make a morning mass. Unfortunately, the same pattern is found at late masses or evening masses as well. As parent, it is up to us to share our faith with our children and to teach them that through small sacrifice (not that I consider attending mass a sacrifice), one will grow with the support of a faith community that will be there for the rest of their lives. More importantly, it is a great opportunity to introduce our children to Jesus Christ our Lord. We need to plant the seed and take care of the seedlings if we wish it to grow to a mighty oak tree.
    God Bless!


  3. Luciano Corbo says:

    Christian LeBlanc, thank you for your response.

    I am so geld to hear that your parish has plenty of families with kids. That is a sign of a healthy faith community. We need more of those.

    I am also glad to hear that you teach sixth grade Catechism. You raise a very good point when your write:

    ” You’re right about parents being the primary catechists. But the parents of most of the kids in my classes got no substantial catechesis themselves. So they can at best instill habits of faith, but not much of the content of faith.”

    If the parents are not informed, chances are that the children will not. This is further amplified if the children of Christian parents are attending public schools where the curriculum is secular. The ‘faith-chain’ is broken if the children cannot have their Christian beliefs reinforced and developed by regular attendance at church and association with the Christian faith community.

    As much as I admire you comment:

    ” They will be substantially catechized, and over time maybe get their parents more fired-up.”

    It is sad that the children will LEAD the parents rather than the other way around.

    God Bless,


  4. I think the demographics differ at Mass according to where you live. For example, when I go to the parish I grew up in NY, it is as you describe. When I am at home in S. Fl; tons of kids, families, etc… But even in my diocese we have some parishes that are affectionately called “God’s waiting room” . I do think we are going to be a very different size Church in the next 10 -20 years.

  5. Luciano Corbo says:

    Deanna, thank you for your comment.

    Demographics perhaps may play a role, but I believe it is slight one. In my community we have had to ‘cluster churches’ due to declining attendance. My original home church was shutdown and now I attend another one. My observation are not ‘scientific’ but rather anecdotal. Unfortunately, I have attended church all my life and there is a stark contrast even as recently as over the last 10 -years. Many churches have the small children’s room at the back of the church – but it is a sad sight to see those emptying out as well. Some argue that it simply reflects the declining birth rate. I agree somewhat, but, when I see numerous Catholic School children daily bussing/walking to school and then see but a handful at mass, I have to argue that it is more than simply declining birth rates.


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