I read an article on a report here. This article makes me very sad because what it tells me is that Catholic parents are giving their kids the SAME upbringing as the totally non-Christian secular culture at large. The research report can be found here.
We need to take a look, a good CRITICAL look.
The article is about the hook up culture on Catholic campuses and shows that for many Catholics there is no difference between them and those who are of no religion at all.
Rather depressing indictment of Catholic parenting in general.
Perhaps if we taught children to make an examination of conscience every night. That would require that we teach them about sin, redemption and the need to constantly seek our own growth in virtue. It would require we teach them to recognize the value of virtue and the problem of vice. We’d need to teach them to understand the ten commandments so they could apply them in the modern world and recognize when they have made some violation of those basic principles.
Vocation is another concept that needs to be taught from an early age. To know that there are more vocations than to the priesthood or religious life. Lay persons ALL have vocations and the individual needs to look at their talents and skills and seek to understand how to find their own special call in this life. This would include understanding the proper role of the human body. We adults need to be reading things like Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body–NOT interpretations–the actual writings.
We’ve grown lazy. Rather than letting a third person tell us what the Bible says– we should read it and teach it to our children. Rather than letting a third person tell us what the documents of Vatican II say– we should read them and teach them to our children. Adults who are lazy in learning their faith will raise children who are equally lazy in knowing the faith.
Do you OWN and BIBLE and an official CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? Both can be gotten at the link to Ignatius Catholic Press. EVERY parent needs to read both and study them. Don’t expect a third person to tell you what they say– READ THEM– and then go to the teachings of the Catholic Church to be sure you understand what those scriptures mean. You cannot teach these things to your children if you are ignorant of them yourselves!
But the book learning is NOT the whole picture. Does the family pray daily? Do you pray about problems in the real world– you know, the stuff on the news that worries you as an adult and do your children SEE you pray about the problems and concerns of other people and of your community? Do they see you donate to charitable causes? Do they SEE you involved in applying the precepts of Catholicism to your everyday secular life? Parents who are not applying it are going to find it really difficult to teach their children, to disciple them, into the living of the Faith.
First KNOW the Faith then DEMONSTRATE living the Faith. Failure in either area will result in young people leaving the Church. Never water down church teaching nor the reasons why we believe what we believe. Of course, it helps a lot of parents choose to study.
The Bishops are to teach, the Priests to teach and provide the sacraments, and the LAITY are to be teaching their children!! If young adults are leaving the Church it is the failure of all, the parents first because we are the first teachers of our children. The Bishops and Priests can help us with that task but they do not live with those children and are not the daily teachers of those children. They can HELP US, but they cannot do the task for us.
This is my opinion:
1. We get the first 12 years to teach the Faith to our children. In those years they must learn to live it and to KNOW it. Teach the doctrines, Sacraments, and scriptures and the precepts and the traditional patterns of fulfillment in their childhood. Go deep and do not water down Church teaching. Teach them with diligence to LOVE Christ and His Church.
2. Teen years are for testing and training apologetics. The challenges that WILL come against their faith should be introduced at this time along with why we feel these challenges are wrong and how our Faith fits in the world. They should be free to question and challenge the faith themselves because it is by our questions that our Faith is able to grow and become our own. AGAIN, do not water down church teaching, the difficulties of living that teaching, the arguments the world makes against that teaching and the PERSON upon whom we base our rejection of the arguments of the world. Love of Christ is strongest when we know Him best.
3. Once a child leaves home as a young adult, they will have to rely on what they know and what they have worked out themselves while questioning. If they received a sound grounding, they will have a sensitive conscience. We can listen and be there for them, but the truth is that our time for training ended when puberty began but our time to disciple them does not end there. We disciple in a very different way during their teen years to prepare them for going out into the world. Then they go and we disciple them at a distance and with much prayer.
It is an amazing part of OUR vocation to teach our children. We cannot control what they do with it, but we can teach it well by learning it and how to live it ourselves and passing THAT onto them.
God bless you in your vocation.