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  #1  
Old Apr 22, '09, 10:42 am
davidmartinez davidmartinez is offline
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Default How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

I'm wondering how to help my brother understand the catholic faith and to live a good catholic life and to ultimately get to heaven. My brother is borderline autistic. He learns at a slow pace and has trouble understanding complex things. He is also very unaware of what goes on around the world... For example, if I were to ask him who the president of our country is he wouldn't have a clue. We were once told that at the age of 13 he had the mind of a 5 year old. He's currently 18. Now, my family and I are devout catholics. We go to mass every sunday (my brother included) and try to live good catholic lives. But my brother simply doesn't understand why we do the things we do (communion, traditions, etc) and how to have a relationship with Jesus. When we are at church he tries to pays attention but If I were to ask him questions about what happened at the mass he wouldn't know and just doesn't seem interested He can't comprehend these things... We try to tell him to pray and talk to God but I'm certain he doesn't know what exactly to do and why. We also try to explain the faith to him but he takes offense to it and when he doesn't understand something he gets really angry and upset. I want my brother to go to heaven, but I'm not sure how to help him get there when he can't understand our faith and how to be a good Catholic. I pray for him everyday... What should I do?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old Apr 22, '09, 11:10 am
FCEGM FCEGM is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

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Originally Posted by davidmartinez View Post
I'm wondering how to help my brother understand the catholic faith and to live a good catholic life and to ultimately get to heaven. My brother is borderline autistic. He learns at a slow pace and has trouble understanding complex things. He is also very unaware of what goes on around the world... For example, if I were to ask him who the president of our country is he wouldn't have a clue. We were once told that at the age of 13 he had the mind of a 5 year old. He's currently 18. Now, my family and I are devout catholics. We go to mass every sunday (my brother included) and try to live good catholic lives. But my brother simply doesn't understand why we do the things we do (communion, traditions, etc) and how to have a relationship with Jesus. When we are at church he tries to pays attention but If I were to ask him questions about what happened at the mass he wouldn't know and just doesn't seem interested He can't comprehend these things... We try to tell him to pray and talk to God but I'm certain he doesn't know what exactly to do and why. We also try to explain the faith to him but he takes offense to it and when he doesn't understand something he gets really angry and upset. I want my brother to go to heaven, but I'm not sure how to help him get there when he can't understand our faith and how to be a good Catholic. I pray for him everyday... What should I do?

Thanks.
David, it sounds like you are your family are doing all that is possible to help your brother know his Catholic Faith, but his limitations may never allow him to comprehend the basics of that Faith. But do not worry about that; God sees and knows His child, so trust Him, not your own abilities to bring your brother to a proper knowledge of the Faith. Your most important job is to mirror to him the life of a Catholic young man.

My youngest daughter (35 yrs. old) has Down Syndrome, so also has a very minimal understanding of the Faith, but I know that she is precious in God's sight and that He sees her soul in its simple purity. We are blessed in our parish to have a wonderful special education program that allows my daughter and her peers to come to know the Lord through lessons geared to their level of understanding. You might see if there is anything similar in your diocese.

Your tender concern for your brother is beautiful to see.
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  #3  
Old Apr 22, '09, 12:46 pm
Galnextdoor Galnextdoor is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

Hi,

Having never met your brother, it's difficult to make a specific suggestion. However, I have a son with autism. I was told not to bother with trying to teach him to read etc. They told me he was severely retarded and would end up living in an institution some day.

I didn't listen to them. Most autistic people perseverate in one or more areas. They focus in this area and know more about it than the average person. For my son, it was easy. He taught himself to read when he was 3 years old. The doctors told me it was pointless because he had no idea what he was reading. I used photos to help grow his vocabulary.
Then I bought bible stories for children. I read them to him and eventually he read them himself. He loves to read the actual bible, but I don't think he understands it.

He also likes videos and the computer. I would bribe him with chocolate pudding to watch religious videos with me. I would help him search the internet for information about the catholic church. I pray every night with him. I went to Catechism with him and tried to explain in a happy, excited voice everything they were teaching. He also loved the format of the old St. Joseph's catechism. I made a game using the questions from the old catechisms. At times, my ex-husband would tell me it was pointless, but I continued anyway. When it came time for him to receive his first Holy Communion, I wasn't sure whether he even had a concept of what sin was. He was very concrete and literal. Father said I should allow him to receive the Holy Eucharist because he could obtain grace from it as long as he understood it was Jesus. When I asked him what the Eucharist was, he told me it was Jesus. He had a limited verbal capacity and for him to answer a question at that time was a big deal.

He is verbal now and loves to go to church. He enjoys saying the prayers even though he is a syllable or two behind everyone else.

The key was to approach religion through whatever he was interested in whether it's music, art, DVD's etc.

God knows the purity of your brother's heart. He understands your brother's limitations, but don't give up.

I once watched a show on PBS about a parrot that had been trained to add, subtract, and know his colors. I figured if a bird with a brain a little smaller than a walnut can do all that, my son, with a much bigger brain could do more.

Never let an opportunity slip by where you brother might be able to learn about his Faith.

I hope this helps some.

Good luck and God Bless
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  #4  
Old Apr 22, '09, 1:10 pm
fmagill fmagill is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

God bless you and your brother and your whole family, and Amen to what the other replies have said.

Your brother is one of God's special people. You know him best so just keep doing as much as you can, within the parameters of his situation.

We have a young man at our parish who usually sits with his Dad a row or two behind my wife and me; he's 30 and has cerebral palsy, is confined to a wheelchair, but has been confirmed and receives Communion every week. I'd say his chances of getting to heaven are probably better than mine. Not that I'm going to stop trying or anything like that! But you get the point.
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  #5  
Old Apr 22, '09, 2:01 pm
convert999 convert999 is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

I admire you for wanting to teach your brother. I have an autistic son. Like your brother, he doesn't understand many of the concepts of Catholicism. However, he knows that God loves him, that Jesus died for him, and that the bread and wine are Jesus. He knows when he has done something wrong he needs to go to Confession. He loves to sing the Gloria, and he is tolerable on the Nicene Creed! The point is that God meets each of us where we are. He is loving and compassionate. Your brother is not going to Hell because he doesn't understand the finer points of the faith. One of the most beautiful things about Catholicism is that although it is so mysterious we can never fully understand it, it is also so simple that we all can draw near to God if we so choose. Your brother is special to God and although you should continue to teach him all you can, you needn't do so out of fear. God bless -- Debbie
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  #6  
Old Apr 22, '09, 2:08 pm
Galnextdoor Galnextdoor is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

Quote:
Originally Posted by convert999 View Post
I admire you for wanting to teach your brother. I have an autistic son. Like your brother, he doesn't understand many of the concepts of Catholicism. However, he knows that God loves him, that Jesus died for him, and that the bread and wine are Jesus. He knows when he has done something wrong he needs to go to Confession. He loves to sing the Gloria, and he is tolerable on the Nicene Creed! The point is that God meets each of us where we are. He is loving and compassionate. Your brother is not going to Hell because he doesn't understand the finer points of the faith. One of the most beautiful things about Catholicism is that although it is so mysterious we can never fully understand it, it is also so simple that we all can draw near to God if we so choose. Your brother is special to God and although you should continue to teach him all you can, you needn't do so out of fear. God bless -- Debbie
Well said.
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  #7  
Old Apr 22, '09, 11:11 pm
BernadetteM BernadetteM is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

God Bless you and your family. I have a daughter who is bi-polar. She is very intelligent, but because of her problem she has problems understanding all the truths of the faith. Yesterday she called and told me she wants to go to a bible study and learn more about God. I pray she will be able to do this as she has problems being around people.

She also said whenever she has been to church she just cries and doesn't want people to see this.

The one thing I believe is that whenever someone has a disablility that affects their minds and learning that our Lord knows their hearts and also just as a baby who is baptized, but doesn't have knowledge of the faith, He has said let the children come unto to me. Our God won't deny them salvation because they are like children.

I understand that my daughter knows right from wrong, but her disease at times causes her to say things or do things that aren't acceptable, (i.e. anger for no reason, feeling people are against her.) She has never harmed anyone and has a loving heart, but can't always control her feelings. The Lord will welcome all His children whatever their age into His Kingdom as their disabilities are not of their choosing. We must try to understand the pain they go through. My daughter would love to be like others. I understand the situation is different with autistic persons, but I feel no fear that Christ will take them to Heaven when the time is right.

Let us pray for these wonderful children of God and their families. Unless someone has someone with these types of problems they really don't understand how difficult and painful it can be.

It seems that God chooses special parents to raise His special ones and although it doesn't appear to be a blessing I think it is. For me it made me much more understanding of others.

Yours in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary

Bernadette
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  #8  
Old Apr 23, '09, 3:28 am
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

God bless you David & all your family! All of the above posts have given you very sound and great advise & information. I thank God you posted here about you brother because we (I) that don't have these concerns in our own families don't realize that there are families that do & need our prayers.

FCEGM, Galnextdoor, fmagill, Debbie & Bernadette, God bless you and your families too. I thank you all so much for your replies & you all are in our prayers.
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  #9  
Old Apr 23, '09, 3:45 am
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kyria kyria is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmartinez View Post
and to ultimately get to heaven. .
I supervise a facility for the intellectually disabled, two of who have autism. In my 17yrs in this field I have realised it is not I who is there to teach my disabled residents how to get to Heaven. It is they who are teaching me.

Their hearts are already innocent in my belief, and they are teaching me how to try and get my heart to become the same.
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  #10  
Old Apr 23, '09, 6:23 am
palmas85 palmas85 is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

I really wouldn't be too concerned about him. The Sisters back in catechism classes told us that people that could not understand the faith as presented due to no fault of their own and that lived decent moral lives would not suffer any punishment for their failure to do so.

In other words, I think your brother is fine. It is nice to see that you are concerned though.
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  #11  
Old Apr 25, '09, 9:35 am
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Holly3278 Holly3278 is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

I believe that for people like your brother, they are like little children. God will accept them in to Heaven because they simply aren't culpable enough for their sins.
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  #12  
Old Apr 25, '09, 10:21 am
PJM PJM is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

Quote:
=davidmartinez;5111857]I'm wondering how to help my brother understand the catholic faith and to live a good catholic life and to ultimately get to heaven. My brother is borderline autistic. He learns at a slow pace and has trouble understanding complex things. He is also very unaware of what goes on around the world... For example, if I were to ask him who the president of our country is he wouldn't have a clue. We were once told that at the age of 13 he had the mind of a 5 year old. He's currently 18. Now, my family and I are devout catholics. We go to mass every sunday (my brother included) and try to live good catholic lives. But my brother simply doesn't understand why we do the things we do (communion, traditions, etc) and how to have a relationship with Jesus. When we are at church he tries to pays attention but If I were to ask him questions about what happened at the mass he wouldn't know and just doesn't seem interested He can't comprehend these things... We try to tell him to pray and talk to God but I'm certain he doesn't know what exactly to do and why. We also try to explain the faith to him but he takes offense to it and when he doesn't understand something he gets really angry and upset. I want my brother to go to heaven, but I'm not sure how to help him get there when he can't understand our faith and how to be a good Catholic. I pray for him everyday... What should I do?

Thanks.
Dear friend,

A very touching and beautiful question.

Please keep in mind that Our God is, and has to be, "all and everything good-perfectly."

So God understands, indeed designed and built these very crosses for you, your brother and loved ones to carry.

Take comfort in these verses:

John 3: "27John [the Baptized] answered, "No one can receive anything except what is given him from heaven."

Luke 11:9 "And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. "

John 10: 27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."

God must judge us by the talents and amount of gifts that He God has given to us. The more gifts we have the more severe will be the judgement, and the fewer gifts we receive, the less severe will be God's judgement.

Not having been blessed to know you and your brother personaly makes it difficult to make specific recommendations.

Know that your brother need not be a fully informed and practicing Catholic in order to get to heaven. It will be sufficient if he is Baptized (Jn.3:5) and knows that Jesus loves him, and allow him to love Jesus to what ever degree that he is able in return.

Towards this end, you may chose to purchase some good childrens religious books that he can understand and read to him daily. The same goes for kids religious videos.

I do recommend taking him to Church with the family [if he can do so without too much of a disturbance] and let him know that its Jesus' home, and that Jesus loves him. Try to teach him easy things like making the sign of the Cross.

Because sin requires intent, you need not be overconcerned on this issue. Simply teach him to love God as well as you can. That will be sufficient.

May our Loving God bless and guide all of you!
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  #13  
Old Apr 25, '09, 11:41 am
Malkin71 Malkin71 is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidmartinez View Post
I'm wondering how to help my brother understand the catholic faith and to live a good catholic life and to ultimately get to heaven. My brother is borderline autistic. He learns at a slow pace and has trouble understanding complex things. He is also very unaware of what goes on around the world... For example, if I were to ask him who the president of our country is he wouldn't have a clue. We were once told that at the age of 13 he had the mind of a 5 year old. He's currently 18. Now, my family and I are devout catholics. We go to mass every sunday (my brother included) and try to live good catholic lives. But my brother simply doesn't understand why we do the things we do (communion, traditions, etc) and how to have a relationship with Jesus. When we are at church he tries to pays attention but If I were to ask him questions about what happened at the mass he wouldn't know and just doesn't seem interested He can't comprehend these things... We try to tell him to pray and talk to God but I'm certain he doesn't know what exactly to do and why. We also try to explain the faith to him but he takes offense to it and when he doesn't understand something he gets really angry and upset. I want my brother to go to heaven, but I'm not sure how to help him get there when he can't understand our faith and how to be a good Catholic. I pray for him everyday... What should I do?

Thanks.
We have a altar boy in our Parish who is mentally challenged. Have and pray for paitence. Pray for him and have Masses said for him. I will say a prayer for you. Just live by example and be supportive.
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  #14  
Old Apr 27, '09, 2:29 pm
Sir Alec Sir Alec is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

David,
I have a brother with severe autism and mental retardation. He's 38 years old, but has the mentality of a little child. He doesn't receive the Sacraments because he is incapable of understanding them. But he has been baptized, and is incapable of mortal sin, so he's in a better spiritual place than I will ever be.

I'm sure Our Lord loves your brother and knows that he has the mentality of a child. He may be incapable of understanding the faith, but he's more than likely also incapable of offending God in a serious way. Take this into consideration and entrust your brother to the Mercy of God. Always remember that God is more compassionate and more understanding than we can ever be. Your brother is in good hands, both here on earth and in Heaven.

God Bless!


Larry
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  #15  
Old Apr 29, '09, 5:31 pm
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Monica4316 Monica4316 is offline
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Default Re: How to help my mentally challenged brother get to heaven?

David, God bless you and your brother. Keep in mind that God judges each person individually according to the opportunities they have to serve Him. I think that He wouldn't judge your brother in the same way as someone who easily understands everything about the faith. It's not understanding that gets us to Heaven, but grace, and our cooperation with it.

God will only judge us based on what we have understood, not on what we haven't.

Entrust your brother to Jesus, and pray the Divine Mercy chaplet or the Rosary for him. Don't try to explain overly complex concepts to him.. just lead Him to God by being a good loving brother and by showing God's love to him. Pray for him and if you can, with him. Is there any religious image that your brother might like? Like an image of Jesus or Our Lady or a Saint? Try to work with the things he might like or understand about the faith..
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