By Mary Lou Rosien
The Holy Father’s missionary intention for the month of September is for the Sacrament of Matrimony; That every Christian family may cultivate values of love and communion in order to be a small evangelizing community sensitive to the material and spiritual needs of others.
I had been pondering this and immediately saw a difficulty as a teacher of the faith: Many of my students come from divorced, dysfunctional, or non-practicing families. This is one of the difficulties of being a catechist in today’s world. So, how do we help strengthen families as domestic churches given this reality?
I remember one time when my children were younger. They had begun to complain about everything and their “attitude of gratitude” had all but disappeared. I packed them in the van and drove them to some of the poorer areas of our city. They witnessed people living on the streets, or living in old houses that were falling apart. They even saw one woman taking food out of a trash can. That little field trip opened their eyes to how blessed they were and how unfortunate were the circumstances of others.
We don’t have to offer unwanted advice, but if we are questioned directly about some aspect of Faith, we have an obligation to answer truthfully. This can be tricky with families who aren’t practicing their faith, but our first obligation is to Christ.
For example, if a student asks if they “have to” go to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day, we can explain that Christ does want us to be at Mass; after all, He gives us everything. We can give Him back one hour a week. However, some children cannot get to Mass if the parent they are with is non-practicing. We must also help these students to understand that they are not at fault if they cannot get to Mass. If we focus on love and not judgment, but speak truth we will be able to encourage all in their faith. If we are able to offer a solution to their problem then we should do so. (Giving them a ride to Mass or finding a friend they could go with.)
As Christ taught us faith, hope, and love are gifts He has given us, and the greatest of these is Love. God bless.
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