Warning…a graphic picture is attached to this post…I’ve edited it, but it’s still not for the eyes of children.
A couple of months ago I came across the Face_book page of the daughter of a Catholic family in my parish. I was actually shocked at the type of artwork that she painted (sample below), and also her life in pictures in general considering the family she belongs to. I was surprised by how disturbing most of the pictures were, and wondering how someone, obviously very talented and coming from a Catholic family, could paint these types of pictures. One question kept creeping in…what? (For curiosity’s sake I then viewed some of her friend’s pages, some of who are young adults from our parish as well...which continued to shock me.)
I recently had two very different conversations with Catholics I know that brought up an interesting juxtaposition and reminded me of this young girl and her artwork again.
I was at a couple's place one night and was having a conversation with the father. While speaking with him we both used the words “feel like crap”. Mother turned around and in a very charitable voice admonished father saying “Daddy, we don’t use words like that in this home. Remember, we are a domestic church.” He proceeded to apologize and thanked her for the reminder. At the time I thought the word wasn’t all that bad, but then I realized that she was protecting her child from a foul/vulgar word…and ‘crap’ is a vulgar word even if it’s milder than some of the words most people hear out in the world.
I also had a conversation with a co-worker who’s five year old son was in a school Christmas concert. She told me that her son sang the Mariah Carey song “All I want for Christmas is you” with actions towards the little girl singing it with him. “Oh it was so cute!” was how she described it. I was shocked that the teacher would let two little children sing an adult song and not protect their innocence (but then again not really), but what shocked me most, however, is the way my co-worker, as the parent, responded to my concern by saying, “Well, I don’t want to shelter him. I want my children to experience things.”
These two parenting styles couldn’t be further from each other. Obviously this is neither about how much parents love their children nor about free will, but it is about how the parent's view of their Catholic identity influences their kids. I was raised in the 2nd parenting style, and my life was just nominally Catholic. Thanks be to God that my eyes were opened to the Truths of the Faith in my 20's, but before that I lived a life a debauchery. Part of that was because that even though we went to church on Sundays, we didn’t do “anything else”, and in my teenage years my parents allowed me to hang around with anyone, watch any show on tv, and say and do anything I pretty much wanted.
As Catholics our lives are suppose to reflect the light of Christ to the world; however, before we develop that light as we grow up, we are supposed to learn the concept from our parents. By the time we reach the teen years, we should have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a Catholic. It seems to me, however, that some Catholic parents are afraid to be “Catholic” lest they be seen as evil and controlling instead of loving and protecting, so they separate their Catholic life from their family life.
Jeremiah 21:8 reads, “And to this people you shall say: Thus says the LORD: See, I am giving you a choice between life and death.” In Romans 8:13, St. Paul says “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Before anyone can live in the spirit as adults, it must be learned as children from their parents who's first job as guardians is to protect them. Catholic parents must protect the children lest they become like snowflakes falling into hell (ref. Our Lady of Fatima).