WHAT MUST I DO? MY CHILDREN HAVE STOPPED GOING TO CHURCH.
The mission of parents is not limited to welcoming the children God gives them. It lasts their whole life, and has as its goal heaven. Although at times the affection of parents for their children can seem fragile and imperfect, the bond of fatherhood and motherhood is in fact so deeply rooted that it makes possible a self-giving without limits: any mother would gladly take the place of a suffering child of hers in a hospital bed.
Sacred Scripture is replete with mothers and fathers who feel privileged and proud of the children God has given them. Abraham and Sarah; the mother of Moses; Hannah, the mother of Samuel; the mother of the seven Maccabean brothers; the Canaanite woman who beseeches Jesus for her daughter; the widow at Nain; Elizabeth and Zachary; and, very especially, our Lady and Saint Joseph. These are intercessors we can entrust our families to, so that they may be protagonists in a new generation of holy men and women.
We are well aware that motherhood and fatherhood are intimately tied to the Cross and suffering. Along with great joys and satisfactions, the process of the children growing up and maturing entails many difficulties, some smaller and others not so small: nights without sleep, the rebellions of adolescence, difficulties in finding work, finding the right person to share their life with, etc.
Especially painful is seeing how at times children make bad decisions or distant themselves from the Church. The parents have truly tried to raise them in the faith; they have endeavored to show them how attractive the Christian life is. And so they may ask themselves: what have we done wrong? It’s not surprising that this question may arise, although they shouldn’t let themselves be tormented by it. It’s true that parents bear the main responsibility for educating their children, but they aren’t the only ones who influence them. The surrounding environment often presents children with other outlooks on life that seem more attractive and convincing, or that make the world of faith seem distant and unreal. And above all, children have their own freedom to decide which path they want to follow.
Sometimes it’s simply the case that children need to distance themselves for a while, so as to rediscover with new appreciation what they have received from their parents. When this happens, parents need to be patient. Although their children have taken a mistaken path, they still need to truly accept them and make their love known to them, and avoid any undue pressure, which could end up driving them even further way. “Often there is nothing else to do but wait; pray and wait with patience, gentleness, magnanimity and mercy.” The example of the father in the parable of the prodigal son is very instructive in this regard (cf. Lk 15:11-32). Although he was well aware of the mistakes his son had made, he also realized he had to wait.
In any case, it isn’t always easy for a mother or father to accept the freedom of their children when they start growing up, also because some decisions, although good in themselves, are different than what the parents would like. Parents can even begin to see themselves as simply spectators of the lives of their children, who up to now have needed them for almost everything. Nevertheless, even though it might seem paradoxical, this is when children need their parents more than ever. The same people who taught them how to eat and walk can continue accompanying the growth of their freedom as they open up their own path in life. The parents are now called to be teachers and guides.
Teachers of saints …READ MORE
EXCERPT FROM Diego Zalbidea, Something Great That Is Love (IV): More mothers and fathers than ever in https://opusdei.org/en/document/something-great-that-is-love-more-mothers-and-fath/
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