Saturday, January 18, 2014

How to be a Mature Christian

 A recent How to be a Mature Christian column in the Catholic Times answers a woman who wants to know how to respond when her husband and children are calling her a religious fanatic.  She is 50 years old, she says, with a kind and good husband and three children, and lacks nothing except that her husband and children are not going to church. When she asks them to go and pray together, the children go to their rooms and the husband turns up the sound of the TV. Going to church alone gives her a heavy heart, she says, and often brings up unsympathetic feelings for her family. What is she to do? 

Such questions are often heard, says the priest-columnist, during the Easter and Christmas confession periods, with many women blaming themselves for the religious condition of the family. Not only do they worry, they consider their situation sinful. He makes it clear that there is no reason to blame themselves for the religious laxity of the family.
He recommends she stop asking them to go to church or to pray. Though there are times we can rightly blame ourselves for not being sufficiently concerned about the religious life of family members, in this woman's case, he says, there is another dimension that should be examined. 

He responds to the woman's question by asking if she knows what her husband  and children would like her to do together with them. He mentions an anecdote of a women who prayed to the Lord to come to the house and bawl out her husband for watching baseball games. That evening she would no doubt have found, he says, Jesus sitting beside her husband, and beckoning her to sit down beside them to watch the game. 
There are other ways to work for the sanctification of the family and have a  happy family than our customary pestering ways. What we think is God's way may not be his way, or the way others see it. The columnist tells her to see the possibility that God is the one who is taking her away from them and the reason for  going to their rooms, turning up the volume of the TV, and calling her a fanatic--all possible signs of resentment and sadness for her time away from home, fulfilling her religious obligations.

A holy family is not only a family that calls upon Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but a family that is able to see the Jesus that lives in each one of them. Her prayer should help her to see how they are being led by God, and to better understand how to approach them.  He advisers her to finish her prayers before he comes home from work, and later to open a can of beer for her husband and sitting down beside him to watch TV, and if puzzled by what she is seeing, to ask him to teach her. If this approach is difficult for her, he suggests that she ask in prayer for help to endure, and to expect her prayer to be answered.

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