After last week hearing Jesus say that the disciples must eat His Body and drink His Blood in order to have eternal life, today’s Gospel says that many of his disciples leave Christ and will no longer follow Him. That seems to be what is happening today. So many families leave the Church because of scandal but even more leave because they find it hard to believe. If we are to change this, if our families are to remain faithful, we have to begin to take our faith personally. We must begin to engage.
Across our society, we find a growing absence of men from Church. If our families are to remain faithful, men too have to stand up and take on their roles as fathers. A surprising study was done a while back in Switzerland and I would like to share a bit of it.
- If both father and mother attend Mass regularly – 33% of children attend Mass regularly and 41% attend irregularly = total of 74% of children attend Mass
- If only the mother attends Mass – 2% of children attend Mass regularly and 37% attend irregularly = total of 39% of children attend Mass (60% will be lost to the faith)
- If only the father attends Mass – 33% of children attend mass regularly and 38% attend irregularly = total of 71% of children attend Mass
- If the father is irregular and the mother is non-practicing – 25% of children attend Mass regularly and 23% attend irregularly = total of 48% of children attend Mass
“The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and many Christians know…
Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates that going to church is not really a “grown-up” activity. In terms of commitment, a mother’s role may be to encourage and confirm, but it is not primary to her adult offspring’s decision. Mothers’ choices have dramatically less effect upon children than their fathers’, and without him she has little effect on the primary lifestyle choices her offspring make in their religious observances. Her major influence is not on regular attendance at all but on keeping her irregular children from lapsing altogether. This is, needless to say, a vital work, but even then, without the input of the father (regular or irregular), the proportion of regulars to lapsed goes from 60/40 to 40/60.”*
Hopefully in writing about this, we can rediscover the importance of the role of both parents and in particular the role of fathers in raising the family in the Church. May both the mothers and the fathers take their roles seriously, and may they work tirelessly for the holiness of their children.
*(“The demographic characteristics of the linguistic and religious groups in Switzerland” by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical Office, Neuchatel; See also article: The Truth About Men & Church, by Robbie Low in Touchstone Magazine)
Fr Michael Thérèse