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“Ask a Priest: What If My Daughter Says God Tells Her to Skip Church?”
Q: One of my daughters says that God speaks to her. She says she feels as if she is in heaven, has no need to attend church, God loves everyone so much. She does not concern herself with anything that is going on in the world since God the Father has all the answers. It is almost like a new form of religion, though she does not like any religion. When I asked her how she learned so many things about God, she says she listens to this voice which she claims is God the Father. She is a very successful dairy farmer, works hard and seems mentally stable, and claims she is full of joy and peace. She teaches some of our family members what she is learning. What should I do? She was raised a Catholic but says the Church accepted pagan cultures and Christianized them. She claims the Church is a man-made religion. I am afraid she is deceived by some spirit, but what if I am wrong? I find it hard to love her as I should since I do not agree with her teachings to my other children. We are a large family. Mostly she is busy farming, but when we get together she tells us some things I do not agree with. And in our prayers she does not focus enough on Jesus but on the Father. She does not want any Christmas trees any more. Small things like that. – M.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: I am sorry to hear about your situation. What you describe brings to mind the words of St. Paul, “Even Satan masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
It certainly isn’t God speaking to your daughter. After all, it was God the Son, Jesus, who founded the Church, who teaches us through the Church, and who through the Church instructs us to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days. Catholicism is certainly not a man-made religion.
God won’t contradict himself, telling the Church one thing and then whispering something else to your daughter.
It might be good to intensify your prayers for your daughter and to go deeper into the faith yourself. It is also important for you to converse sincerely in prayer with the Lord about how he views your daughter. God hasn’t stopped loving her, and neither should you.
You can still care deeply about her without approving of her current religious views. Pope St. John Paul II famously maintained friendships with Jews and other non-Catholics.
You don’t know the whole interior journey that has led your daughter down this path. Continue to think about and enjoy her good qualities, continue to sincerely seek what is best for her, continue to look at her with a gaze of sincere appreciation and esteem — just as God does. Don’t let your relationship with her be reduced to this issue.
It will be important that you can remind the rest of the family for the reasons behind Church teaching. If not, your daughter could end up undermining the faith of others.
We are in an age when even members of our own families have to be evangelized. “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
It seems as though your daughter was exposed to some kind of anti-Catholic materials. The media and Internet abound with them.
As a countermove it might be good to have lots of apologetics books and solid Catholic publications around the house. There are lots of accessible writers, such as Peter Kreeft, Patrick Madrid, and Scott Hahn, just to name a few.
You might want to keep the household radios tuned in to Catholic stations if available. Now is the time to be pro-active.
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