Continuing with the idea of proper preparation for church, let’s focus this week on young people of high school age.
As parents (or grandparents) of children within this age group, we need to realize that these kids are beginning to transition to adulthood. They’re starting to look ahead to the future, and what place religion has in that future. After sitting in a pew for many years, they will ask, “What benefit am I really getting out of doing this?”
That’s not really a bad question for them to ask. After all, as adults living on their own, it will be up to them to decide whether it’s worth it to get up and go to church. Parents won’t be there to make it happen.
Therefore, parents, be active on this question while the kids are still at home.
Take an interest in whatever religious education your young ones are involved with. Ask them who or what is being studied in their classes, and what impression the material is making on them. Make them know you are pleased with them for attending, and encourage them to continue.
Keep in mind that, by high school, your children are becoming more and more involved in a society that downplays the importance of religious faith. At best, society considers faith a private matter; at worst, society would love it if all mention of God was deleted from public life.
Society will tell your children that science and technology contain all the information they will ever need, and can answer every question they will ever face.
Talk to your kids. Help them see that, as fantastic as science and technology are, this simply isn’t true.
They can’t answer the “why” questions, such as: why do bad things happen to good people? Why did my friend die in that car crash, and I lived? Why are people so outright mean to each other?
It’s not the only good source, but encourage them to read Saint John Paul II’s work on faith and reason:
“Faith allows reason to know correctly what it seeks to understand. Human beings reach the deeper meaning of everything, especially of their own existence, by reason enlightened by faith.
“Faith has no fear of reason; it seeks it, building upon and perfecting it. Helped by faith, reason is set free from the disobedience of sin, finding the strength to rise to the knowledge of the Triune God.”
Also worthwhile is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: “It is important to help all family members understand that faith is not a burden, but a source of profound joy. . . . and it offers precious guidance for living life well.”
Parents, your mission is a sacred one, and sometimes overwhelming. Seek God’s help, and you will see that there truly is joy in the journey. God bless.
Michael Clapp is a deacon at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mayfield.