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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How Seemingly Small Decisions Can Have Big Consequences

I once had a neighbor, a wonderful Lutheran Christian. We used to walk together around our neighborhood chatting about anything or nothing. One day (I don't remember how it came up.) he mentioned that his father was a Catholic. "Oh Marvin," I said, "You should have been a Catholic." 

On another occasion two women from the Jehovah's witnesses knocked on my door. I invited them in to chat and we spent about 45 minutes discussing the Bible. I explained that I was a serious Catholic and brought up John chapter six when I got the usual statement about the Bible admonishing against drinking blood. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." They glossed over it.

In the course of our conversation, both ladies said they were former Catholics. I could only reply how sad that made me which seemed to baffle them. I explained that I could not live without the "daily bread" of the Eucharist. They've never returned for a second visit.

These encounters make me ponder the impact of the decisions that led these folks out of the Church and the probable result. Marvin's dad no doubt thought little about his decision to stop practicing the faith. His wife was a serious christian and he, obviously, was a less than serious Catholic. The two Jehovahs' Witnesses were both mothers. So the result of their decisions led their children out of the one, true faith into a bizarre cult that practices shunning and think it's a sin to celebrate a birthday. 

I don't doubt the sincerity and actually admire the zeal of those who are serious about their beliefs. The ladies who became JWs obviously were zealous. You don't knock on the doors of perfect strangers to proselytize if you aren't. Marvin's dad, on the other hand, may have been a "peace at any price" kind of guy who didn't want to fight with his wife. Or perhaps she would have happily become a Catholic if he had been serious about the faith. I'll never know. But I do know he has a lot to answer for as a Catholic father. I pray for him and for Marvin.

The impact in each of these situations was the loss to Holy Mother Church of, perhaps generations, of her beloved children. And how many ancestors passed on the faith before it was cast off like an old coat? Will the children of "former Catholics" ever find their way back to the Church? 

Marvin died a good Lutheran. I have no idea what happened or will happen with the two JW ladies. Sadly, I know many Catholic parents mourning the loss of their children's faith. One, pro-life activist Joe Scheidler, didn't just grieve. For seven years he attended Mass twice on Sunday's -- once for himself and once for his fallen-away son. His persevering prayer was rewarded when his son returned to the faith with a zeal to follow in his dad's footsteps. Joe Scheidler faced his son's decision with a heroic decision of his own. He is a model for all Catholic parents suffering from a child's loss of faith. One bad decision can have a serious negative consequence that affects the future of many families. On the other hand, one holy decision can overcome and restore what was lost.

What are you willing to do to preserve the faith in your family and the generations to come? 


newguy40 said...

I think about that stuff ALOT. My mother was a cradle Catholic and rather hard core. Her prospective husband (my Dad) was Lutheran. She was very clear that if he didn't convert and agree to raise the kids as Catholic, there would be no marriage. She told me that her pastor at the time insisted the same. THAT decision had an impact on AT LEAST two generations of Catholics. Both my sister and I married Catholics and were married sacramentally and raised our children the same. My mom went home a couple months back and I cannot help but be grateful for her stubborn German Catholic attitude that she brought to almost every aspect of her life.

I've had similar conversation with "former" Catholics. Yeah that whole bread of life discourse in John thing was jesus speaking in parables. Ugh... for literal biblists THAT makes their eyes spin and smoke come out of their ears...

Robert Simms said...

Before my parents married, my father was a devout Catholic, my mother was "Protestant", but probably no particular denomination. My dad insisted that my mother convert and that they be married in the Church. My father expected all the children to be raised Catholic. This was the 1950's and my mom did as she was told.
When my dad died in 1967, my mom no longer pretended to be Catholic and made no effort to raise her children according to my dad's wishes.
As a result, all the children left the faith. I am the oldest and had received the most "Catholic upbringing". I'm the only one of four siblings to return to the Catholic Church. My son is the only of my Catholic dad's grandchildren to be baptized Catholic.
You're right, "Seemingly Small Decisions Can Have Big Consequences".

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