Here are the discussion questions this week:
In your own faith:
- Have you always been Catholic?
- How did the instruction and mentoring you received help you – or prevent you – from having a personal relationship with God?
- If you were raised in a Catholic home, are your family members all still Catholic?
- What events among your friends and family seem to explain why some are Catholic, and others are not?
I’ll focus on the first three this time around.
I’ve been Catholic since being de-paganized three weeks after birth. Had 12 years of Catholic education.
And then went to college where I eventually said “no thanks”. Went to Sunday mass for a month or so once I arrived on campus, but found that Sunday mornings came awfully early following late Saturday nights of partying. Turned into a “Chreaster”, and ceased doing anything to develop or learn about or care about my faith.
Of course, that’s all different now, and the journey from that point of my life to the present day is a topic for another day.
Suffice it to say, though, that all those years of instruction and mentoring had little or no bearing on my personal relationship with God. That’s not to say I’m blaming anyone in particular – either the schools I attended, or the teachers I had, and certainly not my parents. My folks worked hard at their faith and were great examples, and sacrificed so that all us kids could get a Catholic education (even in those days, it still meant something, for the most part). I just merely said “no thanks” when I got out on my own.
What those years did provide, however, was a rock-solid foundation, so that when I finally came around and realized I had been living contrary to God’s plan for me, I had firm footing beneath me. Coming to that realization was purely God’s grace, and I owe a debt of gratitude to my parents for building upon that foundation.
I come from a large family of 10 kids – 8 surviving – and except for one brother, we are all still practicing the Catholic faith to varying degrees. It’s the next generation where the faith has sputtered – of all my countless nieces and nephews, only a handful (that I know of) claim to be Catholic. My extended family is a microcosm of what’s transpiring in the Church – later generations leaving and many not returning. Or some remaining, but with little fervor.
It’s something I think about regarding my sons – are they going to trod the same path I did, and say “no thanks” when they get out on their own? It’s possible. My fear is that I wasn’t the example to them that my parents were to me, that even though I rejected the faith for a time, the memory of how they lived the faith served as a touchstone for me when I reverted. If my sons reject the faith, will they be able to look back and recall how their dad witnessed the faith, and be inspired to return? Will they be able to say “My dad was a joyful disciple of Jesus, and I want that”, or will they say “My dad only cared about the rules”?
It’s on me. Time to get joyful. Time to be a disciple.