A wonderful Catholic family I know has just seen their young adult child leave the Faith entirely. They went to daily Mass, homeschooled for a long time, and did their best to form their children in the Faith.
But the culture can draw someone away in spite of these good things. It’s powerful. Like Magneto.
It’s easier to accept materialism than to believe in God, whom you cannot see.
It’s easier to reject the notion of virtue than to strive to live virtuously.
Our culture is attractive: gadgets, sexual “freedom,” rational-sounding arguments for rejecting Jesus Christ. Living the Christian Faith is really hard, and more often than not you are laughed at for it.
What can be done as Catholics?
Strengthen your Catholic community, rear your children in the Faith and be alert to what kind of music they want to listen to, what the Catholic schools are like in the area (if you send them to Catholic school). Many Catholic schools may as well be public ones, or they’re even worse because the kids there are supposed to be virtuous but instead they’re as catty and cliquish and mean as anyone. How painful when a child goes to a Catholic school only to be ostracized by ostensibly Catholic classmates.
Strengthen your parish community, through living close to other faithful Catholic families, as close as you can. 1 minute is better than 5 minutes. 5 is better than 10. And if you are 20 minutes away, you may as well live an hour away. Ultimately we want to buy land and live close by other Catholic families, working together with them as the Amish do…awesome! But that’s a long ways away. Start with baby steps.
But Mormonism and Islam are growing in the U.S. Why?
Because they offer a strong community. The Catholics in the U.S. do not have strong community. But Mormons’ lives revolve around their faith community: religiously and socially. And that makes it almost unthinkable for most Mormons to even contemplate leaving or questioning Mormonism. They would lose everything! And they love their family and friends, who are almost always all Mormon.
And what if they left Mormonism and became Catholic–I know a few souls who have done so–what kind of community will they be embraced by? Unless they go to a great parish or make a huge effort to meet people, they’ll likely be ignored more than embraced. No wonder people become Mormon and Protestant and Orthodox!
Islam is similar, and offers a strong dogmatic alternative to the relativism that our country has embraced.
It’s heartbreaking to see children leave the Faith and do things that are hurtful to themselves, even though they doesn’t realize it. But there is always hope: they received the sacraments and believed during a formative time growing up. God can bring anyone back, though the road may be long and painful. Parents can only do their best; ultimately children get to make their own decisions, and sometimes they make wrong ones, even in huge ways. Free will is a radical gift, blessed be God.
Update: I am going to make a post on Friday that goes deeper into what parents can do and should watch out for.