One of my greatest worries is that I will fail as a mother and one or more of my children might abandon their faith. I know this is an irrational fear. I mean, eventually our children must choose for themselves and despite our best efforts and prayers we cannot compel our children to remain faithful followers of Christ. I still worry and pray, and worry and pray some more. I have special prayers I pray after each Mass, imploring God to protect my children's innocence and their faith. I will always pray those prayers, even as they enter adulthood. I also know my prayers will not fall on deaf ears.
At a special Mass we attended for children preparing for confirmation (our eldest son will be confirmed in April) our priest related a very personal, family story. He comes from a family of four boys. He very often tells stories of his family growing up in Maryland and stories of his brothers, and stories of his parents. His parents were living saints, one can tell just by hearing how respectfully and lovingly Monsignor speaks of them. His mother passed away several years ago, but his father is still living. His father and his brothers and their families will all come and visit Monsignor at the rectory at least once a year--another source of great stories from our priest. Anyway, in this instance he spoke of his oldest brother, who abandoned his faith as a young man, for no certain or explainable reason. Monsignor described his brother's slipping away from his faith as a failure to make the jump from a child's faith to an adult's faith, a step we must all take on our own, at some point in our adult lives. Monsignor recently visited his brother and his brother related to him he was coming back to the church and to his long lost faith after more than 30 years. Monsignor is absolutely thrilled, of course, that his prodigal brother has found his way back. I'm also sure his mother is leaping for joy in heaven, at the return of her delinquent son. Her prayers did not fall on deaf ears.
This story was of great comfort to me. As sad and disappointed as I'd be if my children chose a wayward path, I know it really is out of my hands. I could do everything absolutely correctly as a parent, and my children will still make their own decisions in life, for good or bad. But God will not abandon us. He hears our prayers and he will always be there when our children return to him, and thank God, they almost always do.