Recently at a Mass, I talked about the need to continually ask ourselves who our models in our Catholic faith are and why these people are our models. Having a model in our various vocations, professions, religious beliefs, and social and moral values is necessary if we must work on a goal in life. In other words, when we have a model in any aspect of our life, it helps to keep reminding us of the need to live like that person or to be better than the person. This makes for a life of purpose – a meaningful life. But when there is no model to look up to, the tendency to become mediocre, less productive, and living below our potentials is stronger.
I attended a high school retreat earlier this week. After one of the presentations, a retreat director asked the teenagers who are the most significant influence in their faith lives as Catholics. Some of them responded that their grandparents are the greatest influence in their faith lives as Catholics. Others indicated either their priests, teachers, or other people in their lives. Only very few of them said their parents are the primary influence in their faith lives as Catholics.
The explanations of those students whose parents or grandparents have influenced their faith the most vary. But I found something common in those explanations. The level of commitment of a parent or grandparent to the faith is directly proportional to the level of commitment their children will have in their faith.
Many of us will agree with me that in most cases, nothing can be more beautiful than the presence of grandparents in our lives growing up. These people are like guardian angels for the most part. They are incredibly soft on us, very protective, and are less likely to make us do what we do not want to do. Of course, that is why they are beautiful people. On the other hand, our parents are more likely to push us when we need to be pushed. But when a parent declares himself or herself Catholic but does not practice the faith, the parent is less likely to impact their child’s faith life positively. Only practicing Catholic parents can have noticeable positive impacts on the faith life of their children. Only such parents can be models in the Catholic faith for their children.
Finally, I wondered about those children who are growing up in Catholic homes where there is nothing to show about the Catholicism of the home? No family altar. No crucifix. No sacred images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, or any of the canonized Saints. What will become of the Catholic faith of those children whose parents are Catholics but never or rarely go to Confessions? Attend Masses only when it is most convenient for them? Attend no church events and contributes nothing to both the spiritual and the material growths of the Church? What will such children say about their parents when their peers from Catholic homes talk about how their parents and grandparents have significantly influenced their faith lives? Do we not all need our parents and grandparents to be our first models in our Catholic faiths? What greater legacy can parents leave for their children than the faith of our fathers – that holy faith?