"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.”
Harsh words from our Lord today. But the Gospels never relay Jesus telling a joke. We need to take Him at His Word.
There are 80 million Catholics in the United States. A recent study found that 5% of the 80 million US Catholics
1) Come to Mass every weekend unless they are sick or caring for someone who is sick
2) And confess their sins at least once a year
Apostasy is defined as an abandonment of one’s faith, and I can’t imagine an Apostasy getting much worse than this one. Again, 95% of US Catholics are not practicing at the most fundamental level. Saint Paul tells the Thessalonians there will be a great apostasy as a direct precursor to the coming of the Antichrist. It is hard to imagine this apostasy getting any worse.
The Catechism makes it clear “Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the "first heralds" for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.”
And elsewhere “Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith.” And elsewhere “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.”
Today our American and larger western culture is the most toxic culture in the history of the world; as we hear in our 2nd reading today, the rich will be consumed by fire. And our culture is saturated in $. God does not hate money, but He acknowledges that it starts to corrupt us if we are not careful.
We will be recognizing all of our volunteer catechists and mentors who help provide the support here for what is first and foremost the duty of parents. It is a partnership between the parish and the parents, but the children can’t come unless the parents bring them, and they won’t get anything out of it when they come if they don’t see it lived at home.
I spoke at a home school conference in one of the first years of my priesthood. I said something that I got a lot of positive feedback on, I said “you have to regularly tell your children WHY you are bringing them to Mass, and catechizing them, you have to regularly remind them that is because Jesus Christ has a plan for their life, and that plan iw beyond amazing – you have to do the hard work of raising them in the Faith but also remind them why you are doing it on a regular basis. It will not instantly produce perfect little cherubs who rejoice at getting up to come to Mass, but they will remember it down the road.
I will end with one final quote from the Catechism which makes total sense to me: “By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them” I think that is such good advice. If you have failed in any way, don’t be afraid to acknowledge that to your children as well.
There is a mass exodus that has been going on for generations. If we are to see it turn around, the turnaround will need to start in the family.