Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Raising Saints

Raising Saints

“I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.”  These are the words of a mother to her son.  Not surprisingly, the son became a Saint – St. Louis, King of France.

I suspect, however, that they could be the words of many mothers in eras gone by.  Really, they should be the words of every mother always.  But unfortunately, today those sentiments are far too rare.

What is it that St. Louis’s mother, Queen Blanche, said?  To have her son guilty of a mortal sin would mean that he had offended God terribly and not repented (otherwise, he would have been freed from his guilt through the sacrament of Confession).  Therefore, for love of God, and love of her own son, she would rather see him dead.  To lose his life would be a far lesser tragedy than to lose his soul. 

Considering how much every mother cares for her child’s life, these words must have had a powerful impression on the Saint.

The prudence of saying those words out loud may depend on the situation and the temperament of the child, but our children need to learn the message.

Do our children place such importance on the state and destiny of their souls that they really do consider it of more importance than their lives?  Do we?

Of course, many Catholic parents do acknowledge their children’s spiritual growth and ultimately, their salvation, to be the most important thing.  But it is certainly counter-cultural.

When someone is asked how their children are doing, the first thing they will say is what their job is, or whether they’re married, or if they’ve purchased a home, etc.  Now of course I am not going to go around speculating about the state of my children’s spiritual lives in casual conversation, but I’m sure many of us have had the experience of speaking to a Catholic parent who tells us something like:

“My son’s doing great.  He works for a mutual fund firm in L.A.  He’s got an apartment down there with his girlfriend and they’re thinking of buying a house.”

Wait…say that again.  They’re living in a state of mortal sin, and he’s doing great?  Do his job or prospects for home ownership really matter in comparison?

Of course I am not judging those parents (or children, either.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior and only God can judge culpability).  My point is the culture.  The children in the story above are simply doing what society tells them they should do; and the parent is simply saying what it says he or she should say.  The casual tone may very well mask a deeper disappointment, or just be “polite conversation” with a culture that just doesn’t understand.

And why would they assume people would understand?  According to modern American culture, St. Louis was eccentric, and his mother was nuts!

But we know better.  As Catholics, we want to be light to the world, and leaven in the dough, changing the culture for Christ.  But first, we need to be Christ for our own children.  It doesn’t matter who thinks we’re nuts, we need our children to know where we stand, and why.  May God give us all parental and Christian hearts like Queen Blanche, so that our children, too, may one day walk among the Saints.