A man in his 50s confessed recently: “When I was a child, I was very curious about everything concerning religion. But when I approached my father to ask him a question, he would say to me: ‘Go and ask your mother.’ And when I questioned my mother, she replied: ‘Go and ask the priest.’ That is what made me very quickly lose my Faith. Because if dad, who corrects me when I do something wrong and directs my studies, if mom who feeds me and cares for me, if neither of them are interested in my religious training, it means it is something merely optional.
A recent study has been done on the degree of perseverance in the practice of the Faith among young people in some of our chapels. It concerns a little more than 200 young boys and girls over a period of 17 years (1985 - 2002). The perseverance of our young people is really a universal problem that we must address, both priests and parents. Faith is a supernatural gift, and since a gift is something received, it can consequently be lost. In so many of our families, few young people survive spiritually, that is, continue to practice their Faith seriously when they reach adulthood. What must we do to ensure that they continue to practice their Faith and stay on the arduous and narrow path that leads to Heaven?
The study proved without the shadow of doubt that an essential element for perseverance was the influence of the father in the years of formation: 80% of young people whose father regularly practices the Faith remain faithful. And when the father does not practice his Faith, 84% of his children don’t practice it either.
Another example as a conclusion. A merchant navy captain did the following research, all the more significant as it spans a 30 years career: the crew of his ships consisted of 30 or so sailors, most of whom were from Catholic families. But only a few practiced. The captain was interested in the parents of his sailors and came to this conclusion: all those who practiced always said that their father was a fervent Christian; all those, on the other hand, who had distanced themselves from religion confessed: “My mother was a good Christian, very pious even, but my father did not practice.” The line of demarcation between these robust men was the virtue of their father.
O Lord, give us many good and virtuous fathers!
Fr. Daniel Couture