Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, I'm just a Catholic empty nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

When You're the Only Practicing Catholic in the House

I listened to a Momcast podcast in which Allison Gingras and Danielle Bean were discussing when kids leave the faith. I have to say that I did get a little frustrated while listening. We are a family of 5: my husband, myself, and our three grown male children. Out of the 5 of us, I am the only practicing Catholic. My husband converted when the boys were young but he has since discontinued going to Mass. He's basically turned into a "C&E". Growing up, he didn't go to church regularly as opposed to me being in Mass every Sunday and Holy Day...and then some.

Just as the women said in the podcast, I, too, did all most of the right things when they were growing up: I taught the boys the same night prayers that I learned from my mom, we prayed the blessing before the meal, they went to CCD/Faith Formation faithfully, they received the sacraments. One thing that we didn't do is pray as a family other than before meals. I don't think I ever even taught my kids to pray the Rosary! Yep, I feel like a complete failure.

Wise words to remember

At least, I did until I heard a Homily at a Daily Mass. The school system where I work had a snow day so I was able to go to Mass that morning. The Gospel that morning was Mark 4:1-20, the parable of the sower. The Deacon said something that stuck with me and has given me some comfort. His words:
Our job is to sow the seed of God's word. It is not to determine if the seed we sow will grow. Like Jesus in today's gospel, our job is to cast the seed widely, to sow it with abandon and without concern for the cost, regardless of what we may think about the soil that's receiving it, leaving its growth to God.
We must never filter out those people we think will not be receptive to God's Word. Our efforts are never wasted, even if it seems so to us. 
God can change hearts, softening even the hardest ground and transforming it into a rich, fertile soil that will nurture the seed we have sown.

When I start asking myself "What did I do wrong?" and when I start feeling a little resentful of my husband for not being the Catholic Husband I want him to be, I remember the Deacon's words. When I remember those times of loneliness of sitting alone in the pew with the boys (before my husband converted) and then alone in the pew the past few years, I remember the Deacon's words. I can't make my husband or my boys go to Church. I can't make them share my beliefs. I can't force them to return to the Faith. God gave us all self-will for a reason.

Mass first...then Starbucks

More often than not, when I come home from Sunday Mass, I find my husband either still in bed or in front of his computer. Every now and then he will be out of the house, having taken his dog to the dog park. When we talk about going to Mass, he insists that he prays to God when he is out in the mountains as well as during everyday activities. My dad told him that going to Mass is a form of discipline. I told him that even though he prays, he isn't receiving the Eucharist. And I remind him before Christmas and Easter Masses that unless his sins have been absolved by a priest (since he missed Sunday Masses), he shouldn't receive Communion. I make no comments if he receives Communion...that's between God and him. When I come home from Sunday Mass with a Starbucks cup in my hand, at times he'll raise his eyebrows and ask where his is. My reply: You go to Mass, you get to go to Starbucks.

Maybe I'm not a complete failure

Out of the 3 boys, only 1 of them attends Mass every now and then. Even though he isn't a "practicing Catholic" (following the precepts of the Church), he is a strong defender of the Catholic Church. When he was in law school, he even attended a bible study. I was shocked when he asked me to buy him a study bible and even more shocked when he called me from France to tell me he went to confession at Notre Dame. He attended law school in a "very Catholic" region of the US so at least the Catholic Traditions were being followed.

While discussing religion as an entirety (not just the Catholic Faith), one of my sons said he doesn't want to be associated with "those people"...the hypocrites who claim to be Christian but don't act like it. I reminded him that people can tell he's a Christian by his actions. He mentioned that he didn't care for "structured religion". The picture of him so very carefully carrying the host up for the gifts during his First Communion Mass keeps popping into my mind. Afterward, he said he was so scared he was going to drop it. We have a picture of this little guy in a suit looking down so lovingly at the host as he carried it to the altar. Surely that little boy is still in there somewhere.

I honestly don't know where the other son stands. I'm afraid to ask him because I'm afraid of the answer. I invite him to Adoration with me every week and will keep inviting him.  I just feel that if I could get him into that Chapel even for just a little bit great things will happen for him.

I know they have it in them

All 3 of my boys and my husband are such good men with huge hearts. I know that I have sown that seed. It's just so hard to try not to determine if the seed will grow. I pray constantly for patience, hope, and trust in the Lord. In her latest series on rest, Sonja Corbitt tells us that it took years for God's promises to come to fruition. In this day of immediate gratification, it's so very hard to have patience and to not give up. Seeing all of my men return to the Catholic Faith is just too important to give up on.  Lisa Hendey said it perfectly: ...my family is best served spiritually when I concern myself less with how holy my husband and sons are and worry more about my own personal relationship with God. (from The Grace of Yes: Eight Virtues for Generous Living- Ave Maria Press) These are the words I have to remember when the doubts, sadness, and loneliness creep in. When those feelings start creeping in, what do you do? Do you have any words of wisdom that all of us may need to hear?

2 comments:

  1. Sharing this post with a friend!

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  2. Oh, Mary--how beautiful and how honest! Thank you for sharing! (I know a few friends in the exact same predicament, and I know this will encourage them.) My brother had fallen away from faith for about 10 years. The Sunday I visited and I was able to watch him go up for communion, I cried, commenting to my mom later, "I never thought I'd see him up there again." Her response? "Oh, Jill--never is a very long time." I'll pray for your family!

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