20 October 2015

Bishop Paprocki: Parents must not only take their children to Church, but also talk with them about the Church

Writing in is column in the Catholic Times, the Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki, Bishop of Springfield in Illinois, recently reminded parents of the necessity for parents to talk about their Catholic faith with their children:
For parents, their primary missionary work is with their own children. This is an area of responsibility where words must be used to explain the faith that underlies our actions if the implantation of the church is to take root in their lives. There was a time when our culture would carry our faith, so to speak, by virtue of the fact that everyone else in a particular ethnic group was Catholic, so people would often become Catholic and go to church because that was a cultural expectation. That is no longer the case in a culture that is becoming increasingly secular. Being a disciple of Jesus requires an intentional decision and commitment to follow him.

St. Gregory the Great, who was pope from 590 until he died in 604, wrote that a "spiritual guide should be silent when discretion requires and speak when words are of service. Otherwise he may say what he should not or be silent when he should speak. Indiscreet speech may lead men into error and an imprudent silence may leave in error those who could have been taught."

What this means for families is that if parents take their children to church, but never talk to them about why they go to church and never say why Jesus Christ is so important in their lives, their children will not get the message of the meaning of the Gospel and will stop going to church once they are old enough or independent enough to do so. If they do understand that Jesus established the Catholic Church as the means of their salvation and recognize that participation in the Mass and the sacraments is the way to cultivate a deep personal relationship with Jesus, their Lord and Savior, they will remain faithful throughout their lives [more].
This seems a rather obvious observation, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the obvious. This, of course, presumes that parents are always "ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you a reason for your hope" (I Peter 3:15). Such resources are readily available.

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