Thursday, January 25, 2007

SPIRITUAL CHILD ABUSE - Why many Catholic parents are at fault and not even know it

By Paul Dion, STL

Brethren, especially you mothers and fathers, read the next few lines of Sacred Scripture carefully. These are the commandments that are driven into our parental hearts by the God Almighty who creates us all.

"Listen Israel: Yahweh our God is the One Yahweh. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart. You shall repeat them to your children and say them over to them whether at rest in your house or walking abroad, at your lying down or at your rising: you shall fasten them on your hand as a sign and on your forehead as a circlet; your shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verses 6 to 9)

"...Parents, never drive your children to resentment but in bringing them up correct them and guide them as the Lord does." (Ephesians, Chapter 6, verse 4)

"...Do not forget the things that your eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your heart all the days of your life; rather tell them to your children and to your children's children...Call the people around me that I may let them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on earth, and teach this to their children." Deuteronomy, chapter 4, verses 9 and 10)

"Yahweh said to Samuel, ... you are to tell Eli that I am about to condemn his house forever for he has known that his sons have been cursing God, yet, he has not corrected them." (1 Samuel, chapter 3, verses 13 and 14)

"...I am reminded of the sincere faith which you have. It came first to life in your Grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I have no doubt that it is the same faith in you as well. ... You must keep what you have been taught and know to be true: remember who your teachers were, and how, ever since you were a child, you have known the Holy Scriptures..." (2 Timothy, Chapter 1, verse 5 and chapter 3, verse 15)

Now that you have read what the Bible has to say about our duties as parents, I will share my experiences with you. I will not have to make anything up. It is all true, except the names.
Mamma QueueD’écureuil comes to the Parish Office with a handsome 6’ 2” adult male in tow. She signs the guest book and sweetly addresses the Parish Office Receptionist.

Mamma Q: I want to confirm my son.

P.O. Reception: O.K. I will just give you this form and you can have a seat and fill it out. It’s rather short.

Mamma Q: I have a question, if you don’t mind.

P.O. Reception: Not at all.

Mamma Q: Is it true that to receive the sacrament of marriage a person has to be confirmed?P.O. Reception: Yes, Ma’am. That is true.

Mamma Q: How long does that take?

P.O. Reception: Well, Ma’am that depends on several things.

Mamma Q: I knew you would say that. More red tape, I suppose?

P.O. Reception: We’ll see. Are you related to the person who wants to be married?

6’ 2” Son: Yeah. I’m her son.

P.O. Reception: I see. How old are you?

6’ 2” Son: 22.

P.O. Reception: Are you baptized?

Mamma Q: Yes he is.

P.O. Reception: Do you have his baptismal certificate?

Mamma Q: We lost it.

P.O. Reception: That should not pose a large problem. Where was he baptized?

Mamma Q: I can’t remember.

P.O. Reception: Where was he born?

Mamma Q: France. We were in the service, my husband and me.

P.O. Reception: So was your son baptized in France by the chaplain of your service group?

Mamma Q: No, I don’t think so because we left France about a year or so after he was born.

P.O. Reception: So you can’t remember where he was baptized?

Mamma Q: Yeah, that’s right.

P.O. Reception: Do you remember who the God parents were?

Mamma Q: They were some friends of my husband but I don’t know where they are now.

P.O. Reception: Can your husband help you with this?

Mamma Q: I don’t know where he is.

P.O. Reception: Well, all may not be lost. Where did you make your first communion, Son?

6’ 2” Son: I didn’t make no First Communion.

P.O. Reception: I see. Under these circumstances it would take more than a year to get everything straightened out for your son.

Mamma Q: Well, that’s not going to work. He and his fiancée are fixing to get married in June of this year.

P.O. Reception: Is the girl a baptized Catholic?

6’ 2” Son: I don’t know, I never asked her that.

Mamma Q: I can see that we aren’t getting anywhere here. We’ll just go somewhere else.

If you are sitting there and thinking that this is an extreme case. Think again.

Every year at our parish there are about 35 to 40 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who come into our parish office that I put in this special classification.

They have been baptized and can prove it. About one half have not received their first communion. None have been confirmed. None of them know the simple prayers that most Catholics know and not one of them is a regular churchgoer. Furthermore, every year there are more than a dozen of these young adults who come to us to declare that they have not yet been baptized.

So, you’re thinking, “that’s good, they are now waking up and they are presenting themselves to the church.”

As much as I dislike disabusing you of this notion, I have to tell you that 80 percent or more of them come because their grandmother or their mother told them that they should be either baptized or confirmed or both and so they should take the necessary steps to get it done.

Why does this need arise all of a sudden? Because the church in our region has a rule that says that if you have not received your first communion and are not confirmed you may not be accepted into the church for your wedding.

Are you asking yourself yet where God is in all of this?

My point here is this. The parents who did not teach their children to pray, to love God, to live in a community of sacramental action have sinned against God and against their children.

Baptized parents who deny their children the spiritual blessings and grace of God by not teaching them the meaning of the baptism that they, the parents have, are abusing their children by denying them the training of how to relate to God through the spiritual life of the Church. Baptized parents who do not introduce their children into a shared life with God are disobeying God.

Baptized parents who have their children baptized and then do not raise them in the presence of God and teach them to believe in Him, lied to God when the priest asked them at the time of the child’s baptism, “What do you ask of God for your child? And the parents answered, “The Faith.”

After the church ceremony the family went home, drank, danced and made merry and for years allowed the child to grow without ever knowing who God is and never hearing it from the very people who promised to introduce the child to the faith in God.

Worse yet are those parents who never taught their children to set foot in church, but force their children to have their children baptized because after all, babies have to be baptized. So Grandmother get all huffy, makes her child miserable, drags the new parent down to the church and raises hell and puts a prop under it when the priest “gives them a hard time” and wants to postpone the baptism until the grandmother and the parents can prove that they are really Catholic.

I don’t get it.

Parents bring their children to the baptismal font so that they can be washed clean of original sin. These same parents never once think that because they have no intention of helping their children live and grow in the grace of God, that their sin is greater than the one being washed away from the child.

Not only are these parents sinning against their own baptism, they are projecting their sin on the child that they are presenting for baptism.

Now, that is spiritual child abuse.

I may be preaching to the choir here, and that’s good. I expect the choir members to go out and tell the people close to them who fit the above description to read these reflections. Tell these people that you know that Catholicism is not a culture that you’re born into. It is a studied and practiced discipleship with the Creator and His Son.

Those who deny their children the opportunity to live that discipleship should know that God and His Son Jesus Christ are waiting for them with blazing swords in their hands. I expect the choir to forward this message to those who need to hear it.

Denying children the grace of the faith is behavior that is dealt with directly by the Man Upstairs.

Parents, I am closing by quoting this passage from the Book of Proverbs, written by the wise king, son of David, named Solomon. Teach your children the way it is described here in God’s own words.

“My child, let kindliness and loyalty never leave you; tie them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.That way you shall enjoy favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.Trust wholeheartedly in God, put no faith on your own perceptions; in every course you take, have Him in mind; He will see that your paths are smooth.Do not think of yourself as wise, fear God and turn your back on evil.Honor God with what goods you have and with the first fruits of your returns.My child, do not scorn correction from God, do not resent His rebuke; for God rebukes the person He loves, as a father checks a well-loved child.” (Proverbs, chapter 3, verses 1 to 12.)

Finally, I exhort you to think of the wonderful job that Joseph and Mary did with Jesus in teaching Him about God. When He was found in the Temple with the doctors of the Law, they were surprised at His knowledge of His religion.

God gives us parents the same responsibilities that He gave to Joseph and Mary. Just like them, we have to assure God that the children that He gives us will also “grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2; 52)

If live this way, no one will have to cry at our funeral. If we do not follow the law of God to make ourselves and our children his holy and saintly disciples, I assure you that “at the end of our time, the angels will appear and separate the wicked from the just to throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be wailing and the gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew, chapter 13, verses 49 and 50)

And at those funerals, there will be plenty of reasons to cry.

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