My sister’s husband left her for another woman. It was an affair that went on for 4 years. Both her and her children for 20 years grew up in an atheist household. He wasn’t religious at all, pro abortion and so my sister naturally absorbed this separation and embraced the secular life.
As of recent she has come back to the Sacraments of the Church. I met her today as I walked out of the church having said my penance following confession she was just coming in. ”Is it too late for confession?” ”No” I replied and she rushed by me to be the last one in as the priest was just leaving.
I ventured out and noticed the jeep with two of the three children in the back. I jumped in and the first thing I said to the 16/17-year-old niece was ”Are ye not going to go in as well?”. They looked at me in shock and Her response was chilling, she said ”No, I don’t have anything to confess I’m fine and anyway no teenagers go to confession anyway. ”
I wasn’t surprised by the response though given that she’s grown up not being in the habit of going to Mass and confession. You see, as a Christian, we must make the regular attendance of the Sacraments a habit. When we form good habits and make them our masters, navigating the spiritual life is made a little easier.
Therefore if you’re a parent who neglects your vows at the altar to raise your children Catholic and are not yourself sincere in your own practice of the faith, then your children will always follow you as you become their teacher from birth. Whatever it is they see you love, they also will love. Whatever it is they see you cling to they will also cling to.
Therefore if you love money and make this the centre of your life rather than as a means to an end, your children will become hard and cold like money because that’s what they learn to love just like you.
To add insult to injury, the kids at school and their peers also become their teachers and there is nothing but conflict of thought when they come home to you because all of your ”wills” are weakened by lack of Grace, prayer and the Sacraments.
My niece doesn’t understand the concept of sin and what it is because she hasn’t been taught so she naturally thinks that she’s not a bad person. In addition to this confusion she is the victim of collective thought in which her decisions are made based on what the culture and youth of her age surrounding her decide is trendy and what isn’t.
It is much more difficult to rescue a teenager whose parents have not formed good habits and passed them onto their children, much more difficult.
My mother happened to be in the car and she went for the jugular by saying ”You have to go, other wise you will face God at the end of your life and you could go to hell” or something to that effect.
This is the old school tactic of getting your kids to confession. It makes God out to be a nasty unmerciful God to the modern-day person. It’s useless.
There is a more modern approach to this that has many avenues in dealing with it. I also practice this in my telesales and business to business sales job. Instead of persuading the person to do business with me and qualify them with my product. ”You need this” or ”my product is a great fit for you”, I play hard to get and I apply this primarily in my approach to get others to come back to the Church.
I disqualify the person and play the hard to get card. I give the impression that I’m not altogether bothered if you want to go to confession or not but….here’s some thoughts. I will dig deeper into the person by making it look like I respect their decision, then I allow them to tell me more by saying ”yeah hmm, you wanna tell me more why you think you’re not a bad person?”. It creates an immediate ”This person is not trying to persuade me to go to confession, but genuinely respects my boundaries.”
Then you follow-up more and I responded to my niece by proposing why I thought she felt that she wasn’t a bad person and why she didn’t feel the need for confession. She was open to listen why? Because of the language of reciprocity led her to behave that way.
Basically the language of reciprocity works this way, I gave her something, the opportunity to air her views, now she want’s to reciprocate this by giving me the chance to present my thoughts and this is what is known as the language of reciprocity.
I explained that the reason she doesn’t believe in sin is because her concept of good and evil is limited and she’s never really studied what sin is. We are all bad people and there’s no such thing as squeaky clean soul, even the Pope needs confession and he’s the Pope. Secondly, if I turned on a cooker and it was hot, would you touch the hob? Of course not because it would burn your hand. The consequences are immediate upon touching it.
In comparison to this the consequences of sin are more obscure and hidden. We don’t realise them until we die and we don’t see the wars, accidents and natural disasters around us that are caused by the collective sins in the world both mortal and venial.
Because we don’t see these consequences and when we indulge in the sin of gossip, we are less careful of avoiding it like we are putting our hand into a fire because it has no immediate physical effect on us when we sin. If we indulged in gossip and broke out in boils and developed leprosy, we’d never gossip would we?
This was the gist of my response to her and she seemed more receptive of this than ”Get into confession, it’s your catholic faith that s why and you’ll die one day and face God, what are you gonna say then huh?”
Scare tactics don’t work so don’t scare your children into loving God, rather help them embrace loving God instead through open dialogue that develops a healthy atmosphere of calm and trust.
I do it when I’m selling products all the time. I never try to convince the person that I’m right and they’re wrong or convince them of the product. I allow them to sell it to themselves by asking them about challenges they’re facing in that department. Some may say they’re not facing any challenges and fine where they are and so this is why I invite the person to trust me that if we dig a little deeper we could find a problem.
It’s the same with my niece. In a roundabout way, I invite her to dig deeper and question her own thoughts about the Sacrament of confession by proposing my own suggestions. I plant seeds all the time in the persons mind so that when I revisit them a week later, they may be inside the confession box keeping it warm for me and a total change has occured.
For example in my sales job I never EVER sell something over the phone or on the first visit. I call them up, plant the seed and then when I call them a week later they say ”You know, I was thinking about that price you gave and what you said about X,Y and Z and you know what? I think I’ll go ahead with that.”
So there you have it, plant seeds and pray for them. Your prayers is what waters the seed and it’s up to the Grace of God to let it grow further.