Mama, Don’t Pass the Buck
At the beginning of the Rite for Baptism the priest or deacon says to the parents: You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep Gods commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. He then asks: Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?
Most parents quickly answer “Yes”. But how many take their new responsibility seriously? How many truly see themselves as “the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith”? Unfortunately, from my years of experience, not too many.
Some parents feel they fulfill their promise by sending their children to Catholic Schools. That in itself is a good thing. But keep in mind, 75% of the children in Catholic Schools don’t attend Mass on Sundays. They learn religious facts in the classroom, but there’s no active backup at home. Kids are not dumb. They get the message. “Not important to my parents. Not important to me”.
Many distanced families show a temporary interest in things Catholic when it’s time to celebrate First Confession, First Communion or Confirmation. But even then, they are happy to delegate the work of teaching to parish catechists. And once the Sacraments have been celebrated, they sadly disappear from Sunday Mass, and from the parish scene.
This may sound strange, but perhaps the Corona virus has done us a huge favour. As I mentioned in another blog post, pandemic restrictions are forcing the Church to change the way we do just about everything. And that includes the way we prepare children to celebrate the Sacraments. No more classes in the parish hall. No more large group gatherings in the church. And limited face to face interaction with our young people. As a parish, we can provide catechetical material online, but parents will have to do the heavy lifting.
This will be a wonderful opportunity for parents to connect spiritually with their children. Sharing faith is more than imparting religious information. It’s all about helping young people develop a living relationship with Jesus. A relationship that will carry them through this life into eternity. And before parents can make that happen, they will have to revive their own relationship with the Lord. This “new moment” in the life of the Church has the possibility of renewing entire families and bringing them back to Jesus in the Eucharist. Wonderful thought!
In closing, pray for the young families in our parish. Pray for the children who will approach us for First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation this year. And most important, pray that parents will remember the promise they made at the baptism of their children. The promise “to train their children in the practice of the faith”. Amen.
Msgr. Paul Zimmer
Pastor, St. Clement Catholic Church, Etobicoke
Monsignor Paul A. Zimmer, C.H.H.
Born August 4, 1949 in Kitchener Ontario. Second oldest of eight children. Entered St. Augustine's Seminary in September 1970. Ordained a Priest for the Archdiocese of Toronto April 30, 1977. Associate Pastor: All Saints Etobicoke & St. Christopher's Mississauga; Vice Rector: St. Michael's Cathedral Toronto; Pastor: St. Anne's Brampton, Prince of Peace Scarborough, Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary North York & St. Clement Parish Etobicoke. Named Chaplain of His Holiness by Pope Francis February 1, 2014. Blessed to serve the People of God.