When Adult Children Fall Away From the Faith

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Copyright Josh Hrkach Used with Permission

My latest Catholic Mom column: We recently spoke with four older couples about the challenges of parenting adult children, especially those who have fallen away from the faith. One mother shared her sorrow that her son not only has left the Church, but is actively antagonistic towards the Catholic faith and to her. A father of four adult sons talked about the frustration of finding out that his older son (who spent years serving as an altar boy and who had once considered a vocation to the priesthood) has stopped attending Mass. One couple shared the sad situation of their daughter’s same-sex relationship. Another couple was heartbroken that their daughter now considers herself “transgender.” All four of these parents, faithfully practicing Catholics, asked “What do we do now?” and “Where did we go wrong?”

I’m not an expert, but I do have some experience with parenting adult children who have abandoned their faith. Regarding blame: Recognize that our world has gone astray. Our adult children are being bombarded with messages contrary to the faith. Unless we have kept our children in a box their entire lives, they will come to know many more people who are living a hedonistic lifestyle than living a virtuous one.

Here are some suggestions that my husband and I have come up in dealing with adult children who have abandoned their faith.

  1. Unconditional Love: Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

This might seem like an obvious one, but I know some parents who’ve shunned adult children because they’ve stopped going to Mass or are engaging in immoral lifestyle choices.

My gut reaction to that is, “How are they ever going to learn to change if they don’t have your example to follow?” Also, how are they going to experience God’s unconditional love without a parent’s unconditional love? You can love without encouraging immoral lifestyles. If a son or daughter is cohabiting and they visit your home, separate sleeping arrangements should be in order. If you have younger children, this shows them that you don’t agree with their lifestyle choices, but still love them and welcome them into your home … a home that does not condone cohabitation.

  1. Pray for Your Children Every Day

This is also obvious, but a parent’s prayer for his or her child is a powerful one. Our Lady is a powerful intercessor. St. Monica (whose son, St. Augustine, made immoral choices) prayed for her son’s conversion (and it eventually happened!). My husband and I recite the Rosary for our adult sons every day (one decade for each son). Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive.” Storm heaven for them. It is God’s will that our children spend eternity in heaven. We may not live to see their conversion, but we’ll be able to rejoice in heaven with them.

  1. Fast and Sacrifice for Your Children

Fast and sacrifice for your children. When you’re going through a difficulty, offer it up for your adult children, especially those who have fallen away from the faith. Fast on Wednesdays and Fridays (I do the Ash Wednesday-Good Friday fast of eating two small meals, no meat, and the third meal not larger than the two smaller ones combined.) I’ve seen amazing results with fasting because it’s like lighting a fire underneath our prayers.

  1. Look for Opportunities to Dialogue (But Don’t Nag or Preach!)

This can often be awkward. Most adult children of faithful Catholics know what their parents are going to say, but sometimes it still needs to be said. Take the opportunity whenever you can to reiterate your unconditional love for them and your disagreement with their choices to live a life contrary to the Catholic faith. However, avoid engaging in conversation if you know they might be antagonistic, especially in front of other family members. And don’t nag or preach.

  1. Be a Virtuous Example 

You can teach your kids all about the faith, especially in the areas of marital sexuality, but if you are not living that faith, these truths may be lost or ignored. This also goes for even more basic virtues like patience, fortitude and hope.

  1. Find Supportive Parents Who Are Going Through The Same Thing

Find a support network. I’m a member of a Facebook group called “St. Monica’s Moms.” A support network can give us consolation, especially when we remember that we’re not alone in our struggles. We can also pray for other parents going through this and ask for advice or suggestions on how to handle a specific situation.

  1. Be Hopeful

 I know adult children who converted very late in life; I’ve witnessed imperceptibly slow conversion resulting from an adult child’s experience with steadfast parents. Be hopeful. Never underestimate the value of our prayers.

Parenting adult children who have fallen away from their faith is challenging.  Love them unconditionally, pray and fast for them, look for opportunities to dialogue, be a good example, have a support network and remain hopeful that they will return to the faith.

This video is also helpful for parenting young adults who have fallen away from the faith:

If My Child Has Fallen Away From the Faith…

Copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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An Open Book – August 2019

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Today I am joining with Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com for An Open Book.  Here is what I’ve been reading and planning to read!

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On sale for only .99 this week! A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer!

Amazon Synopsis:  WINNER in the 2016 Catholic Arts and Letter Award (Young Adult Category)!  Heaven Intended (Book One) Amara McKirnan and Nathan Simmons share a devotion to their Catholic faith but their loyalties lie on opposite sides of the Civil War. Dedicated to the Confederate cause, Amara offers to help out at her uncle’s makeshift hospital in Atlanta. Fate brought Nathan to their doorstep and into Amara’s life. Little does Amara know that the wounded soldier she cares for harbors a secret that will not only jeopardize his life but hers as well.

Follow Amara and Nathan’s story from the heart of war-torn Atlanta to the Northern Georgia battlefields to the plains of East Texas as their lives become intertwined in a way that shatters the separate worlds they once knew.

 

MidwifeThe Midwife by Gay Courter

Amazon Synopsis: In this blockbuster bestseller we meet Hannah Blau, the midwife, who fought savage religious prejudice to gain medical training in Moscow’s legendary Imperial College. She fought her own doubts and fears as she plunged into a forbidden love affair and an even more hazard-filled marriage. She fought the awesome odds facing a Jewish immigrant and the bitter hostility of male doctors in turn-of-the-century New York. She fought for her burning dreams and desires. She fought and she won. This sweeping novel follows the courageous and passionate Hannah from the corridors of the Imperial Palace to the Lower East Side, and finally to New York’s Fifth Avenue mansions — recreating a whole world of striving, of love, of lust, of life, death and birth.

My review:  I’ve read this book numerous times, but it’s one that I enjoy reading over and over again because I enjoy the time period (early 1900’s) and the topic (midwifery).

The author doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties and challenges of being a midwife and a Jew at this time period in Europe.  There are underlying themes, but in the end, Hannah is a believable, well-developed person of the time period.  5 out of 5 starts.

 

Lance Veil

The Lance and the Veil by Kevin Rush

Amazon Synopsis:  “[A] richly imagined novel…A big, bold Biblical saga to fire the Christian imagination!”  Kirkus Reviews

On the fateful road to Calvary, his part was cruelty; hers was compassion. The Lance and the Veil tells the story of Veronica, a princess of Rome, and Longinus, a career soldier. Each, alone in a violent world, comes to a holy land during a time of miracles.

Veronica wiped the face of her Lord moments before His death. Longinus pierced his captive’s side, then declared, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

The Lance and the Veil imagines how these two witnesses to salvation came to their moment in  history. Kevin Rush weaves imperial history, Holy Scripture and forgotten Christian folklore into a fast-paced, romantic adventure that uplifts, educates, edifies and entertains.

Kevin Rush has mastered a seemingly forgotten art…the ability to write engaging, faith-infused historical fiction in the tradition of Taylor Caldwell.
– Cary Solomon & Chuck Konzelman, screenwriters for God’s Not Dead

My review:  on my To Read shelf.

Warrior

Warrior of the Kizan by Ann Margaret Lewis

Amazon Synopsis: To save a princess, he must first save himself.Star Wars meets Edgar Rice Burroughs in this techno-magic tale of war and redemption!

Dakhar Talin, a member of a cursed, telepathic people, who is the new head of security for the Royal House of Emun. When the princess, Tasia, is kidnapped, Dakhar’s investigation leads him to a sinister planet called Earth. But inner demons from his military service torment him, threatening his sanity, integrity, and the success of his mission. Can he bring the princess home before he loses his soul to ever-corrupting madness? Read Warrior of the Kizan, the new space opera adventure by former Star Wars author Ann Margaret Lewis!

My review: Warrior of the Kizan by Ann Margaret Lewis is a highly entertaining, well-written sci-fi tale that brings aliens and humans together in one story. The two main other-world characters, Dakhar and Tasia, are from a planet that uses soul speak (can talk without words). Tasia is the heir to the throne and is kidnapped. It is Dakhar’s job to find her and bring her safely back home. Dakhar has unresolved issues of his own. She ends up on earth, where she meets friends and enemies alike. Lewis builds both the alien world and the earth settings with excellent precision and her characters are well-developed and multi-dimensional. Even if you aren’t into sci-fi or space operas, you’ll enjoy this story. Highly recommend.

Three Married

Three to Get Married by Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Amazon Synopsis: One of the greatest and best-loved spokesmen for the Faith here sets out the Church’s beautiful understanding of marriage in his trademark clear and entertaining style. Frankly and charitably, Sheen presents the causes of and solutions to common marital crises, and tells touching real-life stories of people whose lives were transformed through marriage. He emphasizes that our Blessed Lord is at the center of every successful and loving marriage. This is a perfect gift for engaged couples, or for married people as a fruitful occasion for self-examination.

My review:  I recently watched a biography of Fulton Sheen and it renewed my interest in reading some of his books.  This has been on my To Read shelf for many years so I’m in the process of reading it.  Loving what I read so far!

 

Blind Justice

Blind Justice by James Scott Bell

Amazon Synopsis: Jake Denney has hit rock bottom. His wife has left him. He’s drinking again. And his five-year-old daughter is in the middle of it all. When a judge calls him “a disgrace to the legal profession,” Jake starts thinking things might be better for everyone if he wasn’t around anymore.

Then a childhood friend’s mother phones him. Her son, Howie, has been accused of murdering his wife. Jake takes the seemingly hopeless case in a last-ditch effort to save his client and his fading career.

Meanwhile, Howie’s little sister, Lindsay, has grown into a beautiful woman. Though Jake is drawn to her, there’s something about her he doesn’t understand, even though it may be the very thing he needs to reclaim his humanity.

With the evidence mounting against his client, and a web of corruption closing around them both, Jake Denney faces the fight of his life–not only in the courtroom, but in the depths of his own soul.

“Move over John Grisham. James Scott Bell has done it again with Blind Justice. A must read!” – Nancy Moser, author of The Invitation and The Quest

My review: Downloaded this for free on Kindle. On my To-Read shelf!

 

 

 

#FREE on #Kindle Emily’s Hope #NFPWeek

My first book, Emily’s Hope, is free on Kindle until Friday!

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Amazon Synopsis: Emily’s Hope is the gripping story of one young woman’s physical, emotional, spiritual journey from high school to adulthood. Interspersed throughout the story are flashbacks to Emily’s great-grandmother’s troubled life, with a climax culminating in the surprising revelation that Emily and her great-grandmother are connected more deeply than by ancestral ties alone.  Based on a true story.

Reviews:

“I would encourage everyone to read this book, certainly young women.” David Beresford, Catholic Insight Magazine

“While this book is definitely about Natural Family Planning, it is also about the love of husbands and wives, the love of parents for their children and the agonizing moral choices we sometimes face. It is also about real people…and about being witnesses to a culture of life in a world overshadowed by the culture of death.” Kristie Wellman, One More Soul Magazine

“There is so much to love about Emily’s Hope: the innocence of young love, the beautiful, miraculous, healing power of love and the beauty of sacrificial married love and its life-giving splendor. This story is not a fantasy, but is a tender and sensitive portrayal of what makes love real and lasting.” Jean M. Heimann, blogger, Catholic Fire and author

To download Emily’s Hope for FREE on Kindle, click here:

Motherhood Matters #Kindle #Sale

For a limited time only, Motherhood Matters (second edition) by Dorothy Pilarski is available on Kindle for only 2.99!

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Synopsis: Motherhood Matters is even more than what its subtitle says: “Inspirational Stories, Letters, Quotes & Prayers for Catholic Moms.” Author Dorothy Pilarski offers Catholic mothers encouragement and support to follow their precious vocation. Her refreshing affirmation about the beauty, power, and importance of motherhood is much needed today. The author seems to know from personal experience how to directly address a Catholic mom’s doubts and insecurity. Living in a society that often dismisses, denigrates, or ridicules both motherhood and Catholic values means that often a Catholic mom is on the front lines of evangelization—of her own family, and of society. In a very grounded way, Pilarski expresses the dignity of the mother’s calling, and offers creative responses to the challenges. In style, Pilarski is informal and unpretentious. Each chapter is an interesting mix of stories, essays, prayers, and tips. The tips are particularly original and practical, ranging from “how to raise your kids Catholic,” to “ways to make an active attempt to grow closer to God.” The prayers and poems are beautiful and from the heart, but my favorite part is the selection of quotes about motherhood and living a spiritual life that Pilarski scatters throughout each chapter.

My review:  This beautiful book contains reflections of a mother for mothers. 21st century mothering has become one where mothers are expected to work a double, sometimes triple shift: in the workplace,  still carrying most of the load of housework while often caring for their own parents or in laws.  In a culture that has run amuck, Motherhood Matters is a healthy reminder that motherhood is a vocation, a call from God.  It is a sacred gift – one that unfortunately many women have been forced into treating it like just a role or a series of tasks. For some unfortunately it’s treated like an afterthought.  Pilarski illustrates through these writings that truly ‘Motherhood Matters.’

Highly recommend!  Click here to purchase the Kindle edition.

Other reviews:

“This is an excellent source of home-spun wisdom for mothers, their daughters and all women of faith. Dorothy has a great style that is folksy but at the same time she delivers solid truth with passion and humour.” 

~ Sister Ann Shields, S.G.L., of Renewal Ministries is radio host of Food for the Journey and author of Deeper Conversions, To Be Like Jesus and other books on Catholic Spirituality.

“In grammar school, when I learned that Esau had sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, I thought he was very silly. How could an intelligent person give up a precious gift for a passing gratification? Dorothy Pilarski’s book is a must read for women who have become ‘female Esaus.’ Satan’s greatest victory since original sin is to have convinced women that their ‘knighthood’ is a prison. This book offers a precious counter poison to that.”

~ Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, Catholic philosopher and theologian, and author of The Privilege of Being a Woman 

“This thought-provoking book is jam-packed with inspiration, hope and practical tools that will comfort and inspire women of every age.”

~ Colleen Hammond, TV talk-show host, radio personality and best selling author of Dressing With Dignity and The Gossip Guide

“This is a passionate and compelling book. Dorothy has lovingly woven together a collection of articles, letters, quotes and prayers that are guaranteed to stir a Catholic mother’s heart.”

~ Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, host of EWTN’s Everyday Blessings for Catholic Moms and best-selling author of Catholic Prayer Book for Mothers.

“This is a terrific compilation of writings about the triumphs and tragedies of being a mother in today’s world. Dorothy provides concrete suggestions and inspirational vignettes that will encourage any woman in her mothering journey.”

~ Lisa M. Hendey, author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms 

“Dorothy Pilarski writes with profundity and wit about matters practical and divine. Full of anecdotes and humor, this book makes us take an honest look at the lives of women today and helps us to focus on what matters most.”

~ Elena Maria Vidal, author of Trianon

“The author mines personal epiphanies to extract practical nuggets of gold relevant to all Catholic mothers. They’ll want to attach the essay ‘Raising Catholic Kids’ to the refrigerator door!”

~ Josephine Nobisso, speaker, writing consultant and author of more than 40 books, including three novels and several children’s books 

“Dorothy Pilarski is a voice in the wilderness. Full of courage, wit and grace, her candid book is a sincere invitation to discover, or perhaps re-discover, the rich universal treasures of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic faith.”

~Sharon DiCecco, host on HMWN Radio Maria 

 

Rebuilding a Culture of Life #prolife


In John Paul II’s encyclical, Familiaris Consortio, (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), he states (p. 45) “The Church is called upon to manifest anew to everyone, with clear and stronger conviction, her will to promote human life by every means and to defend it against all attacks, in whatever condition or state of development it is found.

Our society has become a culture of death. This is most obvious now that several states in the USA allow for abortion up to the moment of delivery.  In January, Gov. Cuomo signed into law the Reproductive Health Act, which expands abortion rights and essentially allows abortion up to the moment of delivery.  In the photo of the signing, every person is smiling joyfully. Crowds cheered when the news came that New York would allow abortion up to the moment of birth. World Trade Center 1 was lit in pink to “celebrate.”

I’ve been pregnant eleven times with twelve babies (five living sons), and I just cannot comprehend how anyone could be elated and happy that a baby can be killed up to the moment of delivery.   Just 20 years ago, President Bill Clinton said that abortion should be, “safe, legal and rare.”   What happened to that attitude?

Since 1969, Canada has had no restrictions or law regarding abortion. Killing an unborn child is legal right up to the moment of delivery.

Until recently, the movie “Unplanned,” was banned in Canada. Based on Abby Johnson’s compelling book , theaters here in Canada initially “claimed” that it was too controversial. However, these same theaters also regularly show movies with graphic sexuality, language and violence. Thankfully, Landmark and others have overturned this decision and we will be seeing Unplanned at theaters in Canada beginning July 12.

Our own grandchild is currently weeks away from being born and yet here in Canada, my daughter-in-law could legally walk into any clinic or hospital and kill her baby. Thankfully, she and my son are staunchly pro-life.  But thinking about the innocence and defenselessness of a small baby being murdered at any point in pregnancy breaks my heart.  How has our world gotten to this point where such an evil act can be considered a good thing and something to rejoice about?  And can anything be done to turn the tide back to embracing all life from conception to natural death?

“The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then defend life.” St. John Paul II

What about cases of rape?  That’s what my husband and I are always asked when we talk to high school students about the evil of abortion.  First, pregnancy from rape is rare.  Yes, it happens, but it’s less than one percent of all abortions. Second, seventy percent of women who are raped and become pregnant decide to continue the pregnancy. Some keep their babies; others give their babies up for adoption.  The innocent baby does not deserve the death penalty for the sin of his father.  For a compelling story, watch this beautiful testimony from Jennifer Christie.

We must do more to fight against the culture of death by rebuilding a culture of life. Here are a few ways to do so:

Prayer and Fasting
Never underestimate the power of prayer and fasting. Daily Mass, the daily Rosary, a weekly fast (especially on Fridays) and other forms of prayer have more effect than we can possibly realize. Spiritually adopting a baby in danger of abortion is a beautiful way we can build the culture of life. Try to recite the Litany of the Saints daily. We can never know the effect that our prayers have had (until we die), but be assured this is one of the most important ways to rebuild a culture of life.

Chastity, NFP and Openness to Life
All Christians (not just Catholics) are called to practice chastity and be open to life. Being chaste before marriage and practicing marital chastity (faithfulness) is essential for building a culture of life. Contraception is “intrinsically evil,” (CCC 2370) it harms marriages and separates couples physically and spiritually. Natural Family Planning (www.ccli.org) is a safe, moral and effective way to avoid and plan pregnancies.

Some contraceptives are actually abortifacient (cause early abortions), rather than preventing conception. In certain parts of the world, abortion is used as a contraceptive and pre-born baby girls are being killed by the thousands simply because they are female.

This also includes treating children as blessings rather than burdens.  Children are a gift from God.  Is parenthood hard work?  You bet it is.  But these little human beings deserve our attention, love and respect.

Vote Pro-Life
Make sure that your voice heard. Register to vote and vote often and whenever the opportunity arises. This can be no more evident than in our upcoming presidential election. Although I have been living in Canada for 37 years, I remain a US citizen and I have continued to vote in US Federal Elections.

Corporal/Spiritual Works of Mercy
Performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy will also help to rebuild a culture of life because these works will help build spiritual character. When we are closer to Christ, we are closer to a culture of life.

The corporal works of mercy, based on Matthew 25:31-36, are: 1. feed the hungry 2. give drink to the thirsty 3. clothe the naked 4. shelter the homeless 5. visit the imprisoned 6. care for the sick 7. bury the dead.

Being pro-life doesn’t mean that we stop support for women with unplanned pregnancies when they have their babies. Donating clothes and food to crisis pregnancy centers and spiritual support are essential in rebuilding a culture of life.

And being pro-life also doesn’t just mean being against abortion; it also means respecting and defending life at all stages. Donating blood (if you’re able to), visiting the elderly, the sick and those who are confined to their homes are all wonderful ways to rebuild the culture of life.

The spiritual works of mercy, commanded or encouraged in many places Scripture, are: 1. admonish the sinner 2. instruct the ignorant 3. counsel the doubtful 4. comfort the afflicted 5. bear wrongs patiently 6. forgive all injuries 7. pray for the living and dead.

Peaceful Pro-Life Events
Attend peaceful pro-life events like the National March for Life (in the USA it is held every January; in Canada, it is held every May around Mother’s Day), the Hike for Life and other Pro-Life rallies.

Patience and Charity
It’s important to be patient and charitable when speaking to, interacting with, or debating with, those who are pro-abortion. Many of these fiercely pro-choice women have had abortions.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” Try not to be judgmental of the person (always separate the person from the sin). In some cases, these women were coerced by their partners or parents (those who should’ve been protecting them) into having an abortion.

Be a Good Example
Being a good example of Christian virtue is another great way to rebuild a culture of life. Volunteer at or support a pro-life crisis pregnancy center, embrace faithful Catholicism and donate money to causes that will rebuild the culture a life.

Helpful Pro-Life Resources:

Familiaris Consortio by John Paul II

Persuasive Pro-Life: How to Talk About Our Culture’s Toughest Issue by Trent Horn and Fr. Frank Pavone (foreword)

Abolishing Abortion: How You Can Play a Part in Ending the Greatest Evil of Our Day by Fr. Frank Pavone

Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Questions by Randy Alcorn 

Pregnant from Rape: Jennifer Christie

EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

If each of us does our own part, we can rebuild a culture of life, one in which every life is respected and valued from conception to natural death.

Copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach