“Ask a Priest: What If My Son Now Attacks the Faith?”

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Q: My son who is Catholic married a Baptist. She knew and accepted that he was a Catholic (though he wasn’t practicing regularly). Her family has never accepted his or my being Catholic. The couple now have three children who go exclusively to her church. They are not allowed to ever go to a Catholic church, by their mother’s words. My son used to come to Mass with me occasionally but now cannot because his wife won’t allow him to. I’ve not said anything to address how this hurts me as he is an adult, and forcing the issue seems wrong. He told me she has threatened to divorce him and not allow him to see his children if he went to church with me again. As of late my son has taken to insulting and criticizing the Catholic faith, particularly the saints, saying that we pray to dead people “which is a sin.” He then told me I can’t be a Christian if I don’t read the Bible every day. I don’t know apologetics well enough to defend properly my faith, but said I live my faith daily. I’m seriously worried that he will tell me I’m not allowed in his home or to see his children because I’m a Catholic. I would miss them all very much but won’t abandon my faith. I also worry about my final arrangements being honored so I will be buried in the Catholic faith. He told me that the dead don’t need prayers because they are beyond help. This makes me sad, because of what our faith says about prayers for those in purgatory. – P.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’m deeply sorry to hear about this situation. It must be heartbreaking to see your son’s split with the Church.

From what you describe it sounds as though your son has undergone a steady and severe deformation of conscience.

He gradually abandoned the Catholic faith for the sake of his wife and now openly attacks it.

Without knowing more details about their marriage or how they see things, I would suggest things for your short- and long-term benefit.

First, it is crucial that you do not compromise your own faith, in order to try to appease the in-laws. It sounds as though anything short of apostasy wouldn’t satisfy them.

The best thing you can do is be the best Catholic you can, and to pray and sacrifice for the conversion of your son and his family.

To defend your faith better, you might want to start reading books of apologetics. A few suggestions:

Surprised by Truth, by Patrick Madrid;

Catholicism and Fundamentalism, by Karl Keating;

The Case for Catholicism and Why We’re Catholic, both by Trent Horn

The Essential Catholic Survival Guide

As for a Catholic burial: It might be good to speak with an attorney and with your pastor, and to spell out your desire for a Catholic funeral. Even if your son won’t pray for you after your death, the Church will.

A funeral Mass is one of the most powerful prayers that can be offered for your soul. You might even be able to leave money in your will for the parish and to ask that Masses be celebrated for you after your passing.

This is the moment to stay close to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a mom, she knows your heart and knows what you are enduring. If you stay faithful to her Son, you will do well.


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One Comment
  1. VERY GOOD ADVICE . . . on a coming problem between all FAITHFUL parents or other faithful relatives including aunts and uncles or cousins when the time comes to be be buried with a Mass of Christian Burial. DO NOT LEAVE IT TO THOSE WHO LEFT THE FAITH OF THE ‘ONE BODY OF CHRIST.’ (ONE BODY…OF CHRIST aka ‘THE CHURCH’ . . . whatever the faith ‘in practice’ (religion is) There are some of other denominations more CATHOLIC than they may realize. Catholic means UNIVERSAL faith. One God in 3 persons, God, Creator / God’s ONLY Divine Son … Redeemer of Souls (via baptism) no matter how one interprets baptism… blessed water with faith words of baptized in NAME OF Father, Son, Holy Spirit makes SOUL part of the DIVINE WORLD again. God Holy Spirit counselor of the mind of the human faithful persons.

    If you went to a baptist pastor, I doubt he would go along with the words of your son, as his wife taught.

    The wife THREATENS your son with divorce if he enters a Catholic church with you, his mother? I doubt a person of faith of her religion would agree with her on that statement. Your son is so PULLED DOWN and in ‘human love’ (love of God comes first) well, he’s not acting in his free will but intimidation. (sounds like)
    That is probably GOOD NEWS in the big picture. Eventually her ‘threats’ on anything will get to him, and she
    may get what she wants. DIVORCE. (Baptists see no problem with DIVORCE, so I understand, ignoring the
    6th Commandment on Adultery (should SHE remarry) This good Baptist is also ignoring Honor mother and father. Your son is ignoring all this for this woman who does not sound ‘faithful to God.’ He can’t as yet
    see that… but as with any humans of any theology…. there are those who interpret the faith practice to their own mind.

    Agree Father, Mass of Christian Burial AND MASSES SAID for those of other faith practices is VERY POWERFUL ways to convert others. Without telling son, have Mass Novenas said for son, his wife, and your grandchildren. FRET NOT…. it will all work out eventually. St. Monica prayed 30 years for her son Augustine, now St. Augustine. For now, keep THE FAITH, OFFER MASSES for son and wife and grandchildren, Pray the Rosary to Mary for the conversion of son and daughter in law. Never was it said that anyone who fled to
    Mary’s intercession went unaided. KEEP THE FAITH.

    That’s quite a statement your son made: the dead do not need prayers anymore. ignoring that Christ overcame death and we rise IN CHRIST to A NEW GLORIFIED LIFE ETERNAL. The words that praying to saints is praying to dead people is also ‘loss of faith’ in eternal life (but don’t argue with him or his wife, in fact an argument is what they seek so you will be pushed out) . . . HARD AS IT IS, consider it a test of FAITH and IGNORE THEM…. hard as it is, let them call. I hope this woman has other children who remain in the faith in some matter. Send the birthday ‘fun cards’ / no notes inside just remember them and grandkids. (no gifts, in lieu of gifts to grandkids or this couple… set aside the gift money to a college or trade school fund for when grandkids are ready for it) LOVE from afar… if they respond, great if not LOVE ANYWAY, remember Christ who died to self ‘while all were still sinners.’

    EVENTUALLY, the HOLY SPIRIT will make your son and his wife ‘SEE’ THEIR OWN WORDS.

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