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Clare Geneson wrote:

Hi, guys —

I have five sisters and two brothers. We are all cradle Catholics but some of my siblings have not had their children baptized and now their children have children but have not had them baptized. Our mom is a devout Catholic who is 87. Whenever my family gets together she makes sure she tells some of my siblings that they need to get their children and grandchildren baptized. She always stresses on the importance of baptism and she also speaks to us about getting right with God.

She always tells us, that, its not her who says these things, but Our Lord. Well, I was listening to some program on Catholic radio. I cannot remember the name of the program or the guest that day but a grandmother called in, wondering what she could do to get her grandchildren baptized.

The guest told her she needs to stay out of her children's personal business, but my mom says, that we should tell our children, about the importance of, well, everything.

In other words, that guest said, that we parents, grandparents, need not to be telling our grown children about:

  • going to Mass
  • amending their lives
  • baptism and all the sacraments.

  • What is your thought on this?

I also speak to my children about what the Catholic Church teaches — like getting their children baptized, going to Mass. etc.

  • What is your thought?
  • Should we be quiet or continue to speak to them?

Thanks,

Clare

  { Should parents (and grandparents) be telling their children how to raise their children? }

Eric replied:

Hi, Clare —

I didn't hear the Catholic radio show so I can't comment on that but we should be evangelizing everybody and proclaiming the truth in charity.

I do not know the situation in your family. If your mother is not being well-received and is generating hostility toward the faith, perhaps she should back off. But if not, I think there is nothing wrong with what she is doing.

"Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins"

(James 5:20)

Eric

Mike replied:

Hi Clare,

Here's my take on your question.

You said that your mother is a devout Catholic yet some of her children have not had their children baptized.

No matter how devout your mother is, she probably regrets not impressing the importance of Baptism to all her children. That said, the past is the past.

You said:
The guest told her she needs to stay out of her children's personal business, but my mom says, that we should tell our children, about the importance of, well, everything.

In other words, that guest said, that we parents, grandparents, need not to be telling our grown children about:

  • going to Mass
  • amending their lives
  • baptism and all the sacraments.

The Church teaches that the parents are the primary educators of the children. It's good that she encourages them to get right with God but neither grandparents or godparents are parents. The Catechism tells us:

The duties of parents

2221 The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute." (Vatican II, Gravissimum Educationis 3) The right and the duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable. (cf. Familiaris Consortio 36 by Blessed Pope John Paul II)

2222 Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God's law.

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones." (Centesimus Annus 36 § 2 by Blessed Pope John Paul II) Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children.

Grandparents and Godparents are their to help and support the parents as they, hopefully, catechize their children and ensure they receive all the sacraments that the Church has to offer. They are not the parents. As a Godparent myself, I appreciate the frustration involved. Nevertheless, our role is limited to assisting the parents, who are the primary teachers of the faith. I found this very good article by Catholics United for the Faith (CUFF), that may help explain the Godparents role in the life of the Church.

In your situation, the parents have to respect their children's free will. It is the parents who made the promise at the baptism font. The godparents promised to be there as a help or support when needed.

Here is the introduction to a Catholic Baptism:

Priest: Dear parents and godparents: You have come here to present your [daughter/son] for Baptism. By water and the Holy Spirit [she/ he] is to receive the gift of new life from God, who is love.

On your part, you must make it your constant care to bring your [daughter/ son] up in the practice of the faith. See that the divine life which God gives [her/ him] is kept safe from the poison of sin, to grow always stronger in [her/ him] heart.

If your faith makes you ready to accept this responsibility, renew now the vows of your own Baptism. Reject sin; profess your faith in Christ Jesus. This is the faith of the Church. This is the faith in which this child is about to be baptized.

And let us all join with the parents and godparents In their profession of faith,
by responding I do to the following questions: ...

This is the promise your mother made when you were baptized.

These days I'm very concerned that parents do not take this baptismal promise seriously but rather have an attitude:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll say anything you want, as long as you baptize our children.

This attitude is indeed very sad!

So while I would agree with your mother on the importance of getting right with God, I would also encourage her to pray for all her children that they will, through the people they meet, recognize the importance of the Sacrament of Baptism.

  • Why is Baptism important?

Jesus tells us right in the Scriptures:

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit
[a] gives birth to spirit.

John 3:5-6

Jesus instituted the sacraments for a reason: to be used by His people.
He instituted Baptism specifically so we could become part of His Body!

I hope this helps,

Mike

Clare replied:

Dear Eric,

No, My mom does not create any hostility to the faith but she feels that my siblings get upset with her, so she told my siblings how she felt about her faith and the sacraments and told them she was no longer going to say anything to them.

Thanks for you input.

Clare

Clare replied:

Dear Mike,

Thanks for your thoughts and letting me know where I can read on this in the Catechism.

My Mom had eight children and, out of those eight, only one of my sisters failed to baptize one of her children. One of my two brothers, was already late in age when he married a non-Catholic and left the Church so, I don't know if his children are baptized.

It's my siblings children's children who are not baptizing their children. My parents had us all baptized and we received our First Holy Communion and Confirmation. I believe my mom does not regret impressing the importance of Baptism but, she is disappointed in some of us who fell away from the Church and is disappointed and sad for those who have not had their children baptized.

She has always stressed the importance of baptism, some just didn't listen but thanks for you help.

Clare

Mike replied:

Hi Clare,

Thanks for the feedback. In a family setting, this can be very tough to go through for a religious family member.

At the end, we have to respect the free will of individual family members to do as they wish. The best advice I can give your mother is to make it her business by praying for her children on a regular basis. Those who are extremely religious, in families that don't have religious members have to:

  • respect the free will of other family members to do, from their view, dumb things, but
  • be that good, friendly Catholic witness that will have an effect over time to the point that other family members will say:

      "She's so nice, kind, and fun to be with; I want to be like that person — maybe I should find out what they do?"

If there is an important obligation that you think a family member is unaware of, like:

  • our obligation to renew our Covenant every Sunday at Mass
  • going to Confession at least once a month, or
  • a Holy Day of Obligation

Bring it up once in charity. Once they know, the responsibility is theirs, not yours.

Just my two cents.

Mike

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