“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. — Jeremiah 6:16
Several weeks ago, my oldest son was confirmed into the Church. It was a very proud moment for me, yet, at the same time, a little scary. Why would confirmation be scary? Because statistics show that 75 percent of Catholics are not involved with the Church, and one of the questions that I hear the most is, “Why do our youth stop being involved with the Church after they are confirmed?” I’m scared because, for him, this is his crossroads. This is why parents’ attitudes and actions toward being involved in the Church are vital to the life of the family and the life of the Church.
I recently read another statistic that stated Mothers’ Day is ranked third for the holiday with the largest Church attendance. Fathers’ Day was ranked among the lowest. I then found several articles from different denominations stating how a father’s consistent Church attendance is the greatest influence for the rest of his family to attend Church consistently.
Men are not solely to blame for the decline in Church attendance but what stands out is males, in general, havn’t done much to stop the decline. Everywhere I go, I see good men and women engaged with their families by attending sporting events, theater productions, music recitals, helping with homework, helping around the house, etc. But when it comes to Mass attendance … poof. Where did they go?
I am convinced that the adults who we are missing took the other path not because they didn’t desire the good way, but because sometimes the beginning of “the good way” is covered up by a lot of stuff like busy schedules and the desire for some rest. They don’t understand that the “good way” will ultimately lead to peace and “rest for their souls.” It is because of this disconnect that our society has gone from marking “going to Church” on our calendars in ink, to marking it in pencil, to maybe not marking it at all.
As I write this, I think of all the men I know and wonder who is the worst offender. The answer comes pretty quick, because I see him every day as I stand in front of the mirror. Yes, we consistently go to Mass as a family. Yes, I am involved with the Church beyond Mass. However, I must show the same, if not more, enthusiasm for my Catholic faith in my own home than I do when I walk out the door because it is these years when my wife and I help our children fall in love with God, so that the crossroads are something that falls further behind us as we walk “the good way” together.
By Chris Rogers, Director of the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry