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October 14, 2015

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Benedict/Dominic/Augustine/Ignatius/Xavier and his brothers and Kateri/Scholastica/Hypatia/Lourdes are lucky to have you as their accepting mother. Erring on the side of love is what Christianity is all about, I think. (I couldn't resist the opportunity to think of some uber Catholic names....)

I positively ran from the Church the first moment I could. I wandered for years and yet, here I am. Don't lose hope.

I was recently reminded of a promise from the book of Proverbs that if we raise a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I'm clinging to that promise, myself.
Hang in there.

This is a lovely post. I often wonder, as my first children begin to head out on the path of self-determination, how one strikes that balance -- communicating firmly that you love and accept the persons that they are, while never ceasing to hope -- visibly -- that they will choose good paths and turn back from wrong ones.

Part of it surely has to be letting go of the parent-child dynamic (where it's your job to teach them right from wrong all the time) and moving into the parent-*grown* son/daughter dynamic (where you've *done* that job and now it's time for them to make some attempts at living, which almost certainly include mistakes).

And by the way -- yeah, spectactular sinning is one kind of mistake, but surely a slavish, rigid, fearful adherence to rules would also be a mistake? Not that those aren't the only choices, but it's just an illustration that people may bounce back and forth between those extremes as they mature.

Another thing, I think, is to avoid being stricter than the Church herself. A previous pastor of ours used to preach that if your daughter or son married outside the church -- we're not talking about something like attempting SSM, which is a different kind of thing, but about something like forming a natural marriage with, say, a Protestant or an atheist and not bothering with a dispensation -- you shouldn't ever attend the wedding or send a gift or in any way imply that you're happy with the situation. Sure, you could invite them to dinner afterward, but should never acknowledge their union. I thought he was, seriously, off his rocker about this, and still do. Not that it's NEVER right for parents who are truly sorrowing and concerned over their child's bad prospective union to step back in that way, but what was so wrong about his approach was that he burdened conflicted parents with this rule -- that there was only ONE way to communicate love and truth, and it had to be THIS way. But he's wrong: as far as I can tell, there's no infallible teaching "thou must only go to Catholic weddings." It MIGHT be the best way to communicate truth in love to a particular child and his/her prospective mate, but it might not. We have more freedom than that. We must never lie, AND we must always love. We have a lot of freedom within those bounds.

I'm married to a guy who stopped going to Mass as soon as he went away to college. He came back, long after I'd gone thru RCIA (but before we married). It sure didn't *look* like we were helping each other be good Christians while we were dating, if you get my drift. But it turned out. Everything is in God's time.

If you want to talk to the adult child of the mother who is worried about her immortal soul, I'm here. I don't know if it's different for Catholics and Protestants but I know my mom is very uncomfortable with my many-paths-up-the-same-mountain ideas. UMs seem to be okay with that as long as you continue to go to church but she started worrying when I stopped attending and it's not something she's comfortable talking to me about.

There is a part of me that's sad that I've lost the certainty that I grew up with.

Thinking about you both.

A side question from reading one of the links you posted: Do Catholic Churches not have children's church or nurseries?

I'm sorry you are suffering this. I am once again struck by how thoughtful and sensible you are as a mother. Some people are given the gift of faith when they are adults. God works in every circumstance on his own time, through our faults, our strengths, our sins, and our sincere questions. Whether this child of yours is given the gift of faith in two years, twenty years, or fifty years, the seed you sowed when he was a little one will be the seed that flourishes into a mighty tree for the kingdom.

I, too, have a teenager who is saying "I'm not sure I believe in all this." My firstborn! It's so hard and yet, like you, I am trying to respect her ability to come to her own (wrong!) conclusions. I'm forever going back and forth on how much I should say. She knows what I believe and I don't want to push too much. I do make her go to church with us in a sort of "my house, my rules" kind of way but it's also for the logistics of helping me with all the littles.

These once little people are now big people and sometimes it kinda sucks.

Praying for you and yours.

I just love this. I so admire your honesty with yourself and your steadfastness with your children. My oldest is 14; I'm just stepping into these waters. I can only hope to be as faithful and self-aware!

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