Straying and Returning: Stories for Concerned Moms

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Copyright 2015 Judith Costello. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2015 Judith Costello. All rights reserved.

Followers of CatholicMom sometimes send in concerns. Two have caught my attention lately. One was a concern about teens and young adults who have strayed from the faith. The pain this causes for us moms is palpable. The other concern was from a mom dealing with divorce and wanting to grow in faith and help her child grow even during this crisis time.

I can relate to both of these moms!

When I was a young adult I strayed from the faith. It took years for me to open my eyes and see that Jesus was following me that entire time. He was waiting for me to look over at Him and then open the door of my heart. I do believe that, like St. Monica, the constant prayers of my mother made a huge difference.

In St. Augustine’s Confessions we hear that as a young man he was a rebel. He belonged to a heretical group that did not believe in marriage. Augustine had a child out of wedlock. The group he was with didn’t respect private property and would go in and disrupt meetings of groups they disagreed with. They mocked Christians. We can all image that her son’s activities hurt his mother deeply.

At one point, Monica went to the bishop, whose name was Ambrose. She wanted to know what she should do. Action–out in the world–seems so important to us. But the bishop told her that her prayers would have an effect and she needed patience. Monica wasn’t seeing it. She wasn’t sure she could believe it. But she persevered.

And eventually, Augustine realized that his wild life did not give him meaning or happiness or bring him closer to understanding big truths. He was dejected and sitting by a wall when he heard a child chanting, “Take up and read; take up and read.” And so he read a manuscript of one of St. Paul’s letters. The words were what he needed to hear. God spoke to him.

He read that his worldly activities would never satisfy. And so he sought out the good bishop, St. Ambrose. He was baptized and became one of the most famous priests and teachers of all time!

So the message is: there is hope. Patience is necessary. And, prayer IS action.

In my case, my mother kept praying for her strayed child and she did not reject me. Still, she did not accept sin. When I brought home a boyfriend, who I was going to marry, she made it clear that the only way we could stay with her was if we maintained separate bedrooms. Period.

And I did come back to the Church and now am known as “the Sunday School teacher.”

It was a wake-up call when I started teaching catechism that the Church has, for centuries, taught that our purpose in life is simply this: We need to “know Him, love Him and serve Him.” And these things are done by receiving the sacraments, prayer (which is conversation with our Lord) and service.

Recently I did an activity with my Sunday School students and the room became so quiet. That’s when you know they are REALLY listening…

I told them that when we put our hands together in prayer it is like us and Jesus. One hand represents Him. The other represents me. We are that close. But then I sin. He stays there waiting, but I move away. Sin takes us away from God. And the more I sin, the further that distance seems to be. I begin to not know Him at all. But then one day I say, “I’m sorry. Where are you, Lord?” I go to Confession. And instantly He is there and He brings me back. Again, we are those two hands pressed together.

Prayer is action. Keep at it, moms!

Copyright 2015 Judith Costello, MA, OCDS
Image copyright 2015 Judith Costello. All rights reserved.

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About Author

Judith Costello is the artist/author of Sacred Images: A Coloring Book for Prayer which includes 40 illustrations, 3 pages of ideas for adding color, design and borders, and a worksheet on designs. The full-color cover is one of Judith’s paintings. The book and her work can be found at www.unwindstudio.com and on Facebook under Unwind Studio:Where Art Relieves Stress.

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