How would you advise this mom?

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From time to time, I receive very heartfelt emails from Catholic moms asking for advice and wisdom on spiritual topics. Another such email arrived today, and I thought I would come to you — our experts — and ask you to share your perspective.  I am leaving out the name of the emailer and some of the personal details, but there is enough here for you to hear her pain and need for input.  I hope you can spare a moment or two to reply in the comments below.

I was searching internet and found your site and was hoping you could help. My daughter attends Catholic school and will be getting her 1st Holy Communion this year. Out of the blue, she told me she was not sure she believed in Jesus or in God. I explained how with faith we don’t always need proof and I tried to explain why my faith is important to me and that it is natural to sometimes question what we can’t see. She also spoke to her teacher about this and I thought it might just be a phase. My focus was to just be more vigilant with prayers/ attending confession/mass, etc.  But I am concerned she is still questioning her faith. Would like to guidance on how I can address with her. Books/activities/mentors. I’d also like to know if other moms may have handled this. We have a great priest but she is not comfortable talking with him and concerned he may get mad at her for not believing.  Can you offer any suggestions?

I think this is not an unusual problem and that it can occur at many stages in a child’s life.  A dear friend faced this with her son this year as he prepared for Confirmation.  I think we need to acknowledge our children’s questions and do our best to respond to them, not ignoring the problem.  I think it’s also fair, as this mom has done, to seek the help of others and to admit that we do not always have all of the answers in matters of faith.  If her daughter is uncomfortable speaking with the priest, perhaps she can meet with a religious sister or respected teacher in the parish.  Also, along with attending Sunday mass as a family, it is so important to take quiet time each day to pray with our children throughout the course of each day and to pause and recognize moments in our lives when God’s presence may feel more tangible – a lovely winter morning, the perfect sunset, or at the moment of a child’s accomplishment (large or small), pausing to simply say, “Thank you God!” is a testiment to a mom’s belief in a benevolent God who is always with us, even though we cannot see Him!

What advice can you share with this mom?  Have you had this experience in your home?

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children’s fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa’s articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

4 Comments

  1. Having a questioning spirit is a good thing, a great thing, that indicates a serious desire to get at truth and the core of meaning. When a child asks such a profound question, turning to others who are also steeped in Faith can be a source of support and comfort. When my sister asked the question, “What is an experience with the Holy Spirit?” as she prepared for Confirmation, (I was her sponsor), I sent out letters to men and women I knew to be full of faith, good communicators of their faith life, and who I knew would write back with love in their hearts.

    This thoughtful little person needs to know that her questioning puts her in good company, it means she wants to know more about who this person is, Jesus. You might start with the scripture where Jesus asks his disciples, those who have seen the miracles and journeyed with Him, “Who do You say that I am?” and how even then, the disciples have trouble, they mess up, they deny, they doubt. Saint Paul was a zealous persecutor before he became the “least of the apostles.” The story of doubting Thomas might also help, and then the great prayer, Lord I believe, help my unbelief, which if I remember correctly, was St. Thomas Augustine’s, but I might be wrong on that last bit. She needs comfort that what God hopes to have from her is a willingness to begin a more grown up relationship with God, and that communion is part of that more mature faith life. Hope this helps. She’ll have our prayers and so will her Mom.

  2. I have not dealt directly with my child’s doubt, but only with his serious concern about the many unbelieving grandparents he has. This has turned into how could his parents believe when we came from ground zero of not being raised with anything. The question he asked is how can we believe. I used lots of standard things…gravity exists – can’t see it and whether I believe in it or not – it is real. Then I turn to “miracles” (self-defined) that have been my life. I.E. I prayed and prayed about buying a home when I was single. Finally purchased one that was being built. It was arsoned just when it was done. I was sick about it and felt creepy about such evil being there but feeling too timid to approach the builder. I continued to pray. The builder re-started and within 1 month, it was arsoned a 2nd time. I shared my concerns with the builder and he even gave back my $$ down. But bigger would be my pregnancy with him where my OB said I miscarried, sent me home to rest and I was continually sick still. After a few weeks I saw my internist who confirmed I was still pregnant and sent me to a new OB. Certainly there are miracles in life that perserve us, bring us to the right people, moments that illuminate the real presence of Christ. The Church has so many documented miracles and there is a DVD out with American eucharistic miracles which my 7 year old watched with us. Your daughter may not have all the proof and answers which is what life is all about. We proceed forward making the best choice, the higher choice. I cannot prove beyond 1 piece of paper that my parents are really my parents, that there are really 8 or 9 planets in our solar system, or where my water is coming from beyond my tap. I just walk to the tap, have faith, turn it on and water is available. But I can’t get it, if I don’t go to the tap. Of course, Jesus is always at the door waiting for us, loves us, knows us! This is no surprise to Him. But keep praying – to her guardian angel, to St. Monica, to the Blessed Mother, to St. Anthony. Pair this with a sacrifice. Maybe a novena to St. Therese. All this along with Confession, Mass and Adoration can ampligy this cry of your heart to have your child meet Jesus in full faith in the Holy Eucharist. I will pray and make sacrifices for her as well. Love changes everything and softens the heart and mind to receive Him. God Bless You!

  3. Ask her to pray to Our Lord for help every day. Simply pray , “Lord, I don’t know if I believe that you are really there in the Eucharist. Please help me.” Day after day or as often as the doubt crosses her mind. It worked for me and I pray it works for her!

    One day, I realized I believed again. No big moment. No compelling reason to change my mind. Just the gift of faith given after a year of praying. I realized my doubts were completely gone.

  4. I would suggest she read about Mother Theresa. This great woman’s doubt has been well publicized recently. And still, with all her doubts, she was able to accomplish so much, to love and help so many people and to help them find their own faith. Is it normal to question and have doubt? Absolutely. I would even go so far as to say that it’s necessary to build the kind of strong life-long faith that we need to know His love and spread His word. May God bless this family.

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