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“Ask a Priest: What If I and My Kids Prefer a Non-Denominational Service?”
Q: I was raised Catholic and have been married 13 years to a non-religious man. I have my own struggles with wanting to stay in the Catholic Church or to venture out. I recently went to a non-denominational service and enjoyed it more than I have Catholic Masses. The pastor’s sermon was enjoyable and gave me pause to think how it relates to my own life. Catholic guilt is real. I’m torn between providing a Catholic foundation for my three children (my 9-year-old has received confirmation and Communion) while my younger two have only been baptized. This would mean continuing with a Church where my heart is not in it — or do I pivot and let the younger two not complete sacraments? They can choose to complete them when they are older if they choose. All three of them enjoyed the non-denominational service as well, more so than the Catholic Mass, as there is a kids ministry they were able to participate in. – L.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: As enjoyable as this non-denominational service might be, it in no way compares with the Mass, which is where the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is re-presented. It’s Jesus, working through the priest, who represents himself back to the Father.
In other words, at the heart of the Mass, the highest form of prayer in the Church, is something that Christ does, not what we do.
Even when the homilies at Mass aren’t very inspiring, God is still as work through the priest and the readings and, above all, the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.
It’s good to remember that the Catholic Church has the fullness of what Jesus revealed and what he wanted to give the world. This includes the seven sacraments, the liturgies, and the magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church).
What is crucial here is that we shouldn’t base our faith on our feelings and likes. As a Catholic parent you have a serious obligation to pass on the faith to your children.
And you want to give them the best now. Holding back the other sacraments from the two younger children until they are “old enough” to decide for themselves would be like keeping them illiterate – “They can decide when they are 18 whether they want to learn to read.” That is a recipe for disaster.
Your children need the help of the sacraments as soon as possible. The devil and the world are out drag them down, so they need all the help Our Lord wants to extend, now.
You don’t mention specifically why you are thinking of venturing out of the Church. You mention “Catholic guilt” but don’t elaborate.
Perhaps it might be good to ask yourself what you have been doing to learn more about the faith, and whether you have a deep prayer life.
A lack of a solid prayer life and sacramental life can lead to a weakening of our faith. The devil looks for cracks in the wall and then starts to sow seeds of doubt in us.
It might be good to take some of this prayer, and to speak with your pastor or confessor directly.
The decisions you make can have an enormous impact on your children and their eternal destiny.
In the meantime, it might be good to read a few books that will help you understand your faith better.
Also, you might want to seek out solid Catholic programs that you can take your children to.
And cultivate a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She will intercede for you.
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