I can't get my grandson to come to church. What should I do?
A couple came into my office for some marriage prep meetings. I began talking about unconditional love and decided to give them a concrete example. I turned to the bride-to-be and said, “Now, suppose you two get married. One day your husband comes home and tells you that through gambling and bad investments, he’s lost everything – no money, no credit cards, no savings, no checking account, nothing. Would you still love him? What would you say to him?”
She thought for a moment and said, “Yes, I would still love him, but I sure would miss him.”
There really is no response to that.
Dear Fr. Joe, I can’t seem to get my grandson to go to Church. His parents aren’t taking him and I would really like him to go. What should I do?
I was at the grocery store the other day wearing my clerics and this guy came up and said, “You know, I don’t go to Church anymore because it’s filled with hypocrites.”
I said to him, “Don’t worry, there is always room for one more!”
I hope he saw the truth in that statement. We all need Church. I don’t mean to be trite – the pain of a loved one not going to Church is real, I know. When we talk about spiritual matters, we are often talking about people’s souls and we want to take that seriously.
Okay, so what do you do ...
First of all, pray. This is not the “token” response: “Of course you say ‘pray,’ you’re a priest!” No, this is the first and best course of action because it is the root of all we do.
Jesus spent time in prayer and we need to follow His example. This accomplishes numerous things. The two major aspects are that it helps us hand over the situation to Jesus and it takes the answer out of our hands so we are not prideful when God answers our prayers. Got it?
OK, so the first step is to pray. Second, I would have a chat with your grandson’s parents. Show ‘em this article if you want! (Hey, if you are the one reading this now, take your son to Church! We need him!) Avoid condemnation or comments about their parenting skills. Just let them know how painful this situation is for you. Share in a personal way how faithful attendance at Church has changed your life. Offer to drive them to Church – do whatever it takes. This does not need to be about conflict; it can be a simple expression of your pain about this situation.
Now, let me take a moment to address all of you out there who have kids. First, PLEASE take your sons and daughters to Church. As life gets more complicated and/or painful, their faith will be something they can always rely on. Don’t let the spiritual legacy your parents built die with them. We don’t let kids “make their own choices” about alcohol, drugs or sex, so let’s make sure we don’t wimp out on this one either.
Second, if you are taking your kids to Church, make sure they know how important this is to you. Get to Mass on time and dress appropriately. Stay for the entire celebration. Explain how things work and why we do what we do.
Here is something you may not have thought about: not only does your child need the Church, the Church needs your child! We are incomplete when all the baptized members of the Church are not there. We need your daughter’s or son’s gifts and talents. They – and you – are important!
Finally, thank your own parents who took you to Church. This is the best place for us to meet Jesus. This is what saves us and brings us closer to heaven. More often than not, our parents probably had to take some serious garbage from us to get us there. So thanks for taking it, Mom and Dad!
In my short time as a priest, I have seen over and over how important a faith foundation is in life. Let’s make sure we pass this on to the next generation.
Fr. Joe, There are a lot of different religions out there and everybody thinks their’s is right. One of my friends says that we are all right. Is it true that all religions are right?
Nope. One of the things about our culture that is beautiful is our intense desire to be accepting people. When we do this, we can be acting in a way that is very Christ-like. However, sometimes in our efforts to be open people, we sometimes accept too much. Or, as one of my classmates at seminary put it, “You can be so open-minded that your brain falls out.”
Jesus came as a divine person who was many things: the Son of God, our Hope, our Savior, all these and more. But Jesus also came as the truth. Check out Catechism No. 2466: “In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. ‘Full of grace and truth,’ He came as the ‘light of the world,’ He is the Truth.” Wow! How is that for powerful!
As we worship Jesus, we believe we are worshiping the truth. Some people will tell you that truth is subjective. They say, “You have your truth and I have mine.” That, my brothers and sisters, is just plain wrong. There is only one truth and we can participate in it fully or partially.
There always is and always will be things that are more truthful than others and this includes our relationship with God.
Now, let’s look at how the statement, “You have your truth and I have mine,” doesn’t hold water in Christianity, or even the practical world. What if I were to say that your car is red while you say it is maize and blue. Now, as beautiful as those two colors are when put together on say, a football helmet, it’s not like your car would appear maize and blue to me and red to you, right?
Since we now know that there is truth out there and it is not subjective, or a matter of opinion, then we have an obligation as humans to find out what the truth is.
Enjoy another day in God’s presence!