Keeping Your Kids Catholic

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First, let me start off this post with a disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a non-expert. I have little kids. Half of this is theory; the other half good intentions. Nonetheless, nothing goes better with the theme of “Mercy Killing” then a post about parenting. If I’m late to the “Mercy Killing” blog theme, I plead parenthood. Which for those of you without children means that half of my brain is consumed with irrational arguments about who gets the peanut butter first and whether or not the Big Bad Wolf is real.

I’m fairly certain you haven’t made the connection. What, you ask? Between “Mercy Killing” and parenting, of course. The connection is not that little instinct parents have to put a fussy kid out of his or her misery. That is not mercy, that is justice. Come on and give that kid a nap, already. Nonetheless, the connection between the theme of “Mercy Killing” and parenthood is simple: the Nazgûl are screaming overhead, the wall has been breached, and western civilization is crumbling all around us…

What parents see if they turn on the TV

…And some of us have kids.

Nothing is more frightening than a discussion about “Mercy Killing” than a discussion about “Mercy Killing”. What I mean is that when you are a parent, all of these abstractions — as my friend likes to wax all Danske about — cannot remain abstractions for more than a minute. You don’t talk about this stuff over carmel lattes, instead, it deserves Scotch — on the rocks. Times of war, where death and life are faced head-on —  lived in the tangible terminology of bravery, sacrifice and freedom, are times when the pub is the center-piece of the town. Today, Starbucks is our tavern, and that should tell us something about ourselves.

Because when you have kids, a latte won’t cut it. (I’m not advocating for drunkenness, I’m simply observing that we live in a time when life is viewed as a kind of light and fluffy cappuccino. The irony is that we are drinking these fraps smack-dab in the middle of Helm’s Deep.)

The culture of death (a.k.a., the culture of contraception) has impotently thrust upon western civilization more ills than I can recount in this post. Let me just point out an obvious one: children themselves have become an abstraction. We talk about them as an accessory, banding about little memes like: “They are the greatest things that can happen to you”. Even Catholics think about these “great things” in less than human terms, not because our faith or even our humanity informs the idea but rather that the culture we live in so forcefully, so programmatically, reinforces the theme. However, we are only victims of this pedagogical rhythm of death because we are sipping the lattes. So, naturally…

…put down your latte.

Which leads me back to the title of this post. In order to keep our kids Catholic, we have to reject that part of our society that is luring us into self-centered, materialistic, everything-is-okay-as-long-as-you-have-the-new-piece-of-tech way of living. That is the greatest enemy of our day. Great evils never lure the great masses, but it is the small vices that make the masses innocuous to the unthinkable. The Germans did not buy into gas chambers, they bought into labor inequality. Once they thought about the Jew in terms of an abstract obstacle to their economic flourishing, they could ignore the unthinkable as long as it was not wrought at their hands. We are at the same moment in history.

Pick up your faith.

You know what I’m talking about. That thing that has been laying in the corner for a few months. That is how we will keep our kids Catholic. Ce n’est pas très facile: We must remain Catholic. Through and through, there is no substitute for a faith lived, in public and private, with true devotion, piety, sincerity, and conviction. We cannot practice our faith sipping metaphorical lattes, because we do not live in such a time. The moment we declare a détente is the moment we lose. Don’t rest. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop fighting.

Because if anything, the culture of death has robed our society at large with the more specific bravery that comes necessarily with parenthood. It is no longer built into our fabric, but that doesn’t mean we have to give it up.

In fact, our faith and the times demand we do not.

 

Brent Stubbs

Brent Stubbs

is a father of five (+ 1 in heaven), husband of one, convert, and a generally interested person. He has a BA in Theology, studied graduate philosophy, has an MBA, is a writer (or so he tells himself) and prefers his coffee black. His website is Almost Not Catholic. His Twitter handle is @2bcatholic. His favorite color is blue.

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12 thoughts on “Keeping Your Kids Catholic”

  1. Avatar
    Perinatal Loss Nurse

    “Great evils never lure the great masses, but it is the small vices that make the masses innocuous to the unthinkable. The Germans did not buy into gas chambers, they bought into labor inequality. ” Excellent point and very instructive for our time.

    “That is how we will keep our kids Catholic. C’est très facile: We must remain Catholic. Through and through, there is no substitute for a faith lived, in public and private, with true devotion, piety, sincerity, and conviction”.

    I admire your attempts to look into the future and stave off pain and disaster, doing that is a protective part of parenting, but as a woman with older kids (23, 21 & 16) my experience has shown that in reality it is ANYTHING but facile.

    You can raise your kids with a real example fully devoid of materialistic worship…you can live it, teach it and show all the true devotion and piety and they may still turn their backs and walk away. You can safeguard them from porn, engage them as alter servers, teach their Confirmation classes, keep your marriage together, and send them to the Franciscan University of Steubenville and they may still stand in your kitchen and tell you that God doesn’t exist and mock your faith to your face. (For the record, my sons were stellar teens, they were never in trouble…they didnt drink, smoke, steal cheat or curse. I never so much as found a playboy in thier room. One of them prayed outside an abortion clinic every saturday for 4 years )

    Our society believes that doing the right thing will (nearly always) result in the right outcome. It is a lovely thought and I rather wish it were true, but its not. We still need to do the right things and hope for the best and keep steady and stay faithful so that when situations change enough for improvement to be a possibility, we haven’t goofed up our end of it.

    I have learned so much from my ladies who do everything right and their babies still die …their peers very often treat them like crap fueled by an unspoken belief that they really did make some mistake and if they can keep from making the same mistake, they will be safe from such hardship. I am finally accustomed to the disapproving stared of my peers who are sure that my sons wouldn’t be atheists (with dabbling into “Occupying”, anarchy & a few other social movements that might curl your hair) if I had raised them properly. Im their worst fear…dang, not a role I was anticipating at this stage of my life.

    [ I still laugh out loud when I think of a mom talking to me about one of my sons while we were riding in an uber-Catholic 15 passenger family van to FUS to a conference, she painstakingly pronounced each syllable …”your son the homo-SEX-ual” ….” what? oh no, he isnt gay, most of his friends are though” spoken as casually as if I were talking about casserole recipes…you could see her scoot away from me as if the cooties might get her should she get too close. I have no anger for her judgement, I really have compassion that she really has no idea what unexpected revelations her not-yet-adult kids will give her as time goes by. ]

    In a very odd twist though, Im glad that I am my sons’ mother. I feel a capacity to love and nurture them and pray unceasingly for them with a great hope that their faiths will be restored and I will rejoice.

  2. Avatar

    Fair enough, and you are right. I’ve changed it to read “ce n’est pas”.

    What advice would you give to new parents who are trying to raise their kids to be faithful? We all get that anything is possible, that part of being human is having a free will. That is the part of the equation we can do nothing about. So, given the impossibility of *controlling* our children, what would you recommend to parents of younger children? Looking back at your own experience, is there anything you would have done differently or would have wished had been different that you can share with us?

  3. Avatar
    Perinatal Loss Nurse

    Life has taught me that in the hardest of situations, you can’t make it better but you can make it worse. Honestly (with the overarching acknowledgement that we all have our goofiness and foibles) I cant think of a single thing I would do differently in terms of how I presented the Faith to them and how I lived it as an example. Maybe that is the scary part…I don’t think I dropped the ball at all. I will admit that when my oldest son was late HS early college, I fell into thinking that his overall wonderfulness was a direct result of my good parenting. I was probably smug and prideful. He was 21 when he went off the rails. I now realize that his success was no more mine to claim than his struggle is now.

    The biggest advise I want to give you is if your kids lose their faith and espouse ideas that are antithetical to how you raised them, don’t reject them. Set firm and healthy boundaries in all areas (what behavior is allowed under your roof, what you give them money for , common sense stuff) but continue to engage them in a loving way and don’t demand they claim to believe something that they don’t. Faith is a gift from God and belief and worship are what we give back and none of it can be forced. If I forced the faith issue with them right now, I would delay any possibility of them being open to God. If your kids do eventually struggle with same sex attraction, become pregnant, experiment with drugs and /or lose their faith….even if you have to give tough love, after you give the tough…give lots of love.

  4. Avatar

    A very hard topic with no easy answers. My husband and I are Catholic converts for the last 20 or so years, but only in the last 3/4 have we really understood our faith properly. As a consequence three of our four children were very poorly catechised, although as most of us are, we were ‘decent’ parents, doing the ‘right thing’ by our kids. It’s a very humbling thing to realise that we can put everything we have and are into our children, to find that when they get to adulthood they walk away from it all. Only this week, as I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, did Father remind me that it’s His place to ‘save’ my children. It’s right that we all keep on doing what’s right, but in the end only God knows the exact place, time and point at which our wonderful children will return to Him. All we are left with, but in a sense, EVERYTHING we are left with, is hope. Hope in God’s ultimate goodness, and a living hope that He hears the parents prayers. After one of my children declared she didn’t even believe in God, she is now coming back, but through protestant means. My eldest is very much a ‘believer’ , but again, in a protestant arena. My third child came back to the Catholic church, and heard Father call him to the priesthood, and he is now in seminary, a witness itself to the power of prayer and our Mother, the Church. My youngest is taught all that we can with our new knowledge, but we are still very aware her salvation is in God’s hands, we can just lead the way, and again, hope. Not that dead stuff the world calls ‘hope’, but the living vibrant faith-filled stuff that keeps us going in the face of adverse hopeless situations. And yes, love. Lots and lots and lots of it. God’s way.

  5. Avatar
    Perinatal Loss Nurse

    Fathers are profoundly important. Satan will stop at almost nothing to lure him away…trouble is, too often it works.

    Im in the age-group of marriage implosion…guys who were super involved and cut the cords at births in their 20s and 30s are now living fatherhood and its hard and many of them get into a time when they question their happiness and a thought turns to ruminating turns into obsession and they drop like flies. A Catholic surgeon with a wonderful wife and 3 kids just over the hill is the most recent one I know of. He was a great dad up until a few months ago.

    This is what I lived and see over and over… Most men – if they were watching tv with their wife and kids and a knife wielding intruder came into the house – would protect his family from the would-be killer with his own flesh, he would fight to the death to protect them. It takes years of torment for Satan to turn a normal person into an ax murderer and even then, how many families cold he kill before he got caught, so he found a much more efficient method. If Satan can use the Screwtape method to whisper a few well placed lies in the dads ears at just the right moment, no ax murderer, is needed, the man will destroy his family with his own hands & his own words from the inside out. The family may not be physically killed but they will be destroyed and in despair with long held beliefs and promises violated.

    Yes, those left behind can stay faithful and survive but the price paid is very high (perhaps highest to the man himself whose soul is then in peril).

    I bought my husband Steve Woods’ book on Catholic fathering (a great book) as a gift but he didnt open it til after the implosion. When he finally did, the first 3 or so chapters describe fatherhood in terms of being a good husband. Reading that book must have felt like getting stabbed with knives, he could only read a few pages at a time, at one point he said “when did you buy this?” ..it was years earlier…too bad he didnt read it.

    So I believe that the battle is fought and won over which thoughts we allow ourselves to entertain. As soon as you give into the “its my wife’s fault that Im not happy” you are on your way down. You won’t likely imagine that that single thought will change your life to the point where you have to fly in for your son’s Confirmation because you live in a different city, but it may very well.

    .

    LizB, I am so happy that your kids are in the “returning stage”, praise God. My old self would have congratulated you on your sons journey to the Priesthood my new self knows its between him & God but you can rejoice with everyone he will bless in his vocation.

  6. Pingback: Men: Be Courageous | IgnitumToday

  7. Avatar

    I just placed my comment on the second post “Men: Be Courageous” but would like to refer peoople to it as I can only say that the fatherhood issue is near and dear to me for many reasons and ask readers to please check it out too. God bless.

  8. Pingback: education programs

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