My dad was an ex-Catholic. My mom was an ex-Southern Baptist. When they married they discussed what they should teach their kids about faith before we were even born. Both of them had left their respective churches and fully believed that any and all institutional churches were inherently corrupt. Although they had given up their churches, they had not given up believing in Jesus. They thought that we needed to know about Jesus, so that we could make a choice as adults, so they sent us to Sunday school, sporadically, read the Nativity from Luke at Christmas and talked to us about Him. I think we went to a Lutheran church a couple times, but I was pretty young and don’t remember much except having to sit for a long time on a hard pew while someone droned on and on. Doctrine was a little thin on the ground, and while my mom would occasionally criticise her old Baptist church, I got a lot of anti-Catholicism from both of them. Basically, I was taught that church was not necessary to a life of faith.
In addition, I grew up in Saudi Arabia, with a short stint in New York for 3rd grade, then back to Arabia. Islam was ‘in my face’ every day. When the call to prayer came, the gardeners and other workers would stop whatever they were doing, spread out their prayer mat, and pray. That is the one thing I will admire about Muslims. While I didn’t have any belief in their religion, the quality of their faith spoke to me: Fervent, which is what God wants of us.
As a teenager, I got involved in the occult. I read palms, and was fairly good at it because I was always being asked to do it, held seances and used a homemade ouija board to contact spirits. Nobody had ever taught me that this was a dangerous thing to do. Mostly, I was taught that such things were toys and games.
This is one of the things that can happen when you don’t teach your kids your faith, they get involved in all sorts of crazy, dangerous things.
Learning about Jesus isn’t learning faith, it isn’t learning to know Jesus. It is just a history lesson. I look back and really wish I had known Him when I was growing up.
Despite it all, God had other ideas for me and took me by the scruff of the neck and gave me a good spiritual shake. One day I didn’t believe much of anything, the next, I fully believed that Jesus is God Incarnate, Second Person of the Trinity, come to earth to suffer, die and rise from the dead, and that I needed to be baptised ASAP. Now, what church…?
God led me home. I had been looking at Baptism as an end, so little I knew about it. ‘Now I’m washed and I’m OK.’ WRONG - its only the beginning, a new birth into life in Christ.
I expected the most opposition to come from my mother, from whom I had had the most of the anti-Catholicism, but my dad was the most upset. Still, they came around and accepted my choice.
I determined to teach my sons my faith, only I had no confidence in my ability to do so and relied on the Catholic schools to teach the particulars of the faith, while we practiced at home, praying together at least when they were young, saying grace at dinner, going to Mass every Sunday and participating in the life of the local Church.
They know how I believe but when it came time for my youngest to be confirmed, he outright told me that he didn’t believe any of it and refused confirmation. My eldest had been an EMHC for his school Masses, but after he left high school, he stopped going to Mass and now practices nothing. I feel like such a failure. It was so important, and I didn’t manage to pass my faith on.
I guess my point is that while parents have the best of intentions in raising their children, they will go their own way. My parents didn’t teach me any faith at all while I attempted to teach my sons. I ended up with faith, while my children don’t believe. God worked a miracle in me, I can only pray that He will do the same for my sons.