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Religious practice and parents’ concern

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It’s much more likely, I would think, that your children are sincere in their faith journey — reading the Bible, praying, attending religious services — and seeking to do what God wants.

Father Kenneth
Doyle

Q. I am a cradle Catholic, as are my children. My concern is that, since they reached adulthood, they started going to nondenominational Christian churches instead of to a Catholic church. When they visit me they go to Mass with me, but otherwise they don’t. They are, however, very close to Jesus and read their Bibles regularly. But I can’t help being concerned because I have always learned that not going to Mass is a mortal sin.

It breaks my heart that only one of my grandchildren was baptized in the Catholic Church. One was baptized a Lutheran, three were “dedicated” to the Lord, and one was not baptized at all until she became a teenager and chose to be baptized as a Baptist. Most of them are active Christians in adulthood, but there is not a practicing Catholic among them.

I keep wondering what I did wrong and what I can do now, but then again their faith is strong and active. Are my daughters living in mortal sin because they abandoned the Catholic Church? I am so worried about this and keep praying about it. (Kailua, Hawaii)

A. I, too, am saddened and disappointed that your children are no longer practicing Catholics. I believe that the Catholic Church offers the strongest and surest path to salvation — especially with the strength that comes from regularly receiving the Eucharist — and it bothers me a lot when people abandon that path.

But I think you can be at peace and leave it to the Lord to judge the state of your children’s souls. From the circumstances you indicate, I think it’s doubtful that they are living in mortal sin. (Remember that for something to be seriously sinful, it demands that the person realize that it is.)

It’s much more likely, I would think, that your children are sincere in their faith journey — reading the Bible, praying, attending religious services — and seeking to do what God wants.

Maybe what you might do is ask them sometime, in a quiet conversation, “Do you ever miss receiving Jesus in holy Communion?” But don’t be forceful or confrontational, lest you drive them farther away. Meanwhile, I will pray for them, too.

Q. Recently, in answering a reader’s concern about “perfume fests” in her parish church on Sundays, you offered your opinion that “perfume terrorism is not universal.” Let me tell you that it is, in fact, universal; there are people who are suffering in every parish.

I have had to leave Mass early to minimize severe allergic reactions and have sometimes felt that a heart attack was imminent. Parish leaders should find a way to remind parishioners gently to consider their friends who are too kind to say that they are bothered. (City and state withheld)

Q. My husband felt validated when he read the letter from the parishioner who has a hard time staying through the end of Mass because of allergies to perfume. Perfume triggers my husband’s asthma. I have a doctor who sends a letter to her patients to remind them not to wear perfume to their appointments because the doctor herself has a serious allergy.

My husband says that he is more afraid of perfume than of COVID-19. My heart goes out to the person who wrote to you. Just because you can’t see a person’s disability, that doesn’t make it less real. (Greenwood, Indiana)

A. Above are two excerpts from the multiple responses I have received following the publication of the first letter on this topic. Apparently, the problem is more general than I had believed.

- Father Kenneth Doyle is a columnist for Catholic News Service



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