Fill-in-the-blank Catholics

Julie Filby

Photo credit: Mazur

How would you complete this sentence: “I’m a___________ Catholic.”

Cradle, convert, revert? Practicing, devout, serious? Perhaps cafeteria, cultural or C&E (Christmas & Easter)? Fallen away, lapsed, relapsed, collapsed?

In an organization of one billion worldwide, there are bound to be varying levels of interest and commitment among members. Which makes me wonder: What kind of Catholics are we raising?

I’ll be honest: if our kids (now 8 and 5) are anything like me they could be “temporarily lapsed, former C&E (give or take a feast day), happy-to-now-be-practicing, cradle Catholics” when they’re adults. However, what I'm shooting for are “happily practicing, on-fire, lifelong Catholics.”

Am I setting the bar too high? I don’t think so; it can’t hurt to try.

A 2009 study showed one in 10 American adults describe themselves as a former Catholic. Nearly half said they left the Church before they turned 24, and the reason most cited was that they “gradually drifted away.” That’s disheartening for anyone who loves the Church and a daunting statistic for Catholic parents.

The survey pointed out key differences between former Catholics and lifelong Catholics in their level of religious commitment between ages 13 and 18. Former Catholics were less likely to have attended Mass regularly, or to have had strong faith as teenagers. (Author’s note: Mom and Dad, I now appreciate the fact that Sunday Mass attendance was not negotiable at our house.)

While I can’t control the spiritual journey of my children, here are some things I can do to help influence it:

1.Live as a faithful Catholic myself: keeping in mind that little eyes are always watching and little ears are always listening. Lead by example.

2.Teach them about the faith: not just what we do as Catholics, but why.

3.Encourage questions and provide answers: not pretending to know all the answers, but knowing where to find them.

4.Help them get involved: there are countless opportunities to get involved spiritually, socially and service-wise.

5.Pray: Think St. Monica.

6.Be patient and loving: See #’s 1-5. Patience and love should come in handy for all of the above.

I WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS: “I'm a ______________ Catholic.”

Follow my blog on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MothersMusings

Topics: Faith

Julie Filby, wife and mother of two (ages 8 and 5), is a reporter for the Denver Catholic Register newspaper. She also enjoys blogging at Mother’s Musings about the simple ways Christ is unmistakably present in every-day family and work life. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. She also contributes to CatholicMom.com and Catholic Lane.

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