Two days ago, my administrative assistant talked a friend out of committing suicide.
It was midnight when he called. When she got there he was on the floor of his bedroom, curled up in the fetal position with a knife in his hand. Until a few months ago, he had no religion. He wasn’t baptized. Last summer he started going to Mass with her and then joined the RCIA. Now, as he got closer to joining the Church, the spiritual warfare was rampant.
He was bombarded by doubts, fears, and messages of despair. He was alone, he told her. He was worthless and no one loved him, he cried.
Lies, she told him. All lies. Exactly the message Satan, and the world, wanted him to hear. Exactly the opposite of what God wanted him to know…that he was planned from the beginning of time, that he would never be alone if he was with God, and that he was worth so much Jesus died for him.
Sometimes, I get discouraged. So many people outside the Church reject this message. So many people inside the Church are indifferent to it. I wonder if it really is making a difference in the world, if people really need it.
I know how much of a difference Christianity has made in my own life. I know in my heart that following your own course through life, or the one the world maps out for you, is often destructive. And, I say it often…but am I exaggerating? Is it actually not that bad?
Then I run across a story like this and I know it’s true. Catholicism is a true roadmap for life. Life charted by our fallen whims and desires does not fulfill in the end. It can lead to dissolution and despair, sometimes even to the brink of suicide.
No, people do need Christ and the Truth he reveals through the Church. Of this there is no doubt. And, while proclaiming this in foreign countries, door-to-door in your neighborhood, or even to co-workers in your office is admirable, as a Catholic parent your primary mission field is your home.
Your first duty is to your children. You have to make sure they get this message and not the counter-message of the culture. It’s not enough that they go to CCD at the parish. You can’t be sure they’ll get it there. They may learn lots of great things about God, but not the way they’ll learn it from you.
You have to teach your kids. You can’t afford to leave this up to chance. The culture is toxic. They must know their great worth in God. Their faith must be nurtured and grown to maturity by someone who knows them. Eventually they must face the world on their own, but not before they’re prepared.
That’s your mission, should you choose to accept it. Are you ready?
Copyright 2015, Marc Cardonella
Art/photography: Volkan Olmez, Unsplash.com, Creative Commons Zero