“Ask a Priest: What If Mom Spends a Lot of Time on Facebook?”

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Q: My mom and I live together in an apartment, and she goes to work most days, but I’m worried about her because she doesn’t have much to do at home. At home, she usually spends most of the day on the computer on Facebook. I asked her what her responsibilities are, and she said cleaning around at home and feeding me, basically. She’s Catholic and makes sure we go to Mass every Sunday, but that’s about it for her faith life. She’s getting old and I, her last child, am going to college soon. My father and her have been divorced for 10 years now, so I’m pretty much all she’s got at home. Do you have any tips as to what she can do with her time rather than spend most of it on the computer? I love her so much, and she’s the most loving mother I could hope for. I have been doing research about Catholicism, and this caused me to be really focused on the faith. I’m super pumped about the responsibilities I have as a Catholic, such as evangelization. How can I help my mom do something more than just sit at home all day? Any tips? – Xavier

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s great that you are concerned about your mom’s faith. Once upon a time it was usually moms who worried about their kids spending too much time on Facebook.

The fact that Mom gets to Mass every Sunday is a sign of a lot of good will on her part. Nowadays, regular Mass attendance is not as common as it should be.

Maybe a few things could help:

First, you want to intensify your own prayer life for her. Tell her that you remember her often in your prayers.

Second, you might try to point her to alternatives on the Internet. You might suggest that she subscribe to some Catholic services, such as Aleteia, which has a lot of articles about cultural and historical aspects of the Church. These might get her more interested in the faith.

You also might want to steer her toward the RC Spirituality Retreat Guides, and encourage her to tune into Catholic radio if it’s available locally.

Also helpful might be to give your mom a statue or picture of Our Lady and ask her (your mom) to remember to pray for you when you are away.

Another form of help would be to encourage her to get involved in some kind of parish or volunteer activity. Her Facebook activity might be her way of filling a social gap in her life.

She might feel isolated from friends and other people her age. If you can encourage her to network with people in real events, that might help her a lot.

It’s also good to keep in mind that the work of growth in the spiritual life is really a work of the Holy Spirit. That’s why we shouldn’t try to force things on people.

Your mom, for instance, might be living the faith as best she knows how, right now. So, while it’s OK to suggest things, it’s good to do it gently.

While you are away you might want to send her messages on Facebook to remind her of your prayers. In that way you can add a little spiritual dimension to the social networking service.

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