Screaming at the Font

Well, God didn’t waste anytime letting me know how hard it is going to be to raise your kids Catholic. I thought I had at least till the age of thirteen. Nope. It has already started and our daughter hasn’t even turned 3 months.

A few weekends ago we did the dutiful Catholic thing and got our baby baptized. We had the white gown  —that I wore for my baptism and my mom had to use every method under the sun to get the stains of five baptisms out— we had the family and friends and a reception planned for afterwards.  It didn’t matter though, because I will forever remember the screams that prevented me from feeling the peace and serenity of this important first Sacrament.

Just before she started to least we got one good picture

Just before she started to least we got one good picture

We already knew babies can be unpredictable and we tried to plan her feedings/naps for her Baptismal day to ensure a smooth sailing.   We didn’t expect her to sleep the entire mass, to all of a sudden wake up and be STARVING —usually she is a happy bubbly baby for the first twenty minutes she wakes up— two minutes into her Baptism she starts screaming.  I knew she was hungry, but I couldn’t feed her in that situation, and we just had to try and district her for those 15 minutes of which I heard nothing of.

Contemplating about the day afterwards made me realize that this is something I am going to see throughout my child’s life.  I can read her bible stories and say her prayers with her. We can take her to mass on Sundays and put her in Catholic schools, but this is no guarantee that the ride to faith will be a smooth one.  She probably wont want to go to mass some days, she may stop praying or believing all together.  All we can do, as her parents, is to teach, model and pray for her, in the end trusting that God will help her reach Heaven.


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One Response to Screaming at the Font

  1. Agellius says:

    You didn’t ask for advice but since you’re sharing I assume you won’t mind.

    I have two sons, age 18 and 20, who I think I can say confidently that we have successfully managed to raise in the faith. There are two main things that I think made the most difference between us and other Catholic families whose kids didn’t come out so Catholic.

    First, don’t be afraid to teach them about obedience. They must obey you because it’s a commandment; not only might it make you mad if they disobey you, but it would also be a sin. For the same reason they must also obey the Church (in matters of faith and morals).

    I think most families treat obedience as a “relationship issue”: The parents insist that they be obeyed, but the kids know where the boundaries are and try to push them, and the parents not wanting to be tyrannical allow the boundaries to be pushed, but if they’re pushed too far then they will push back, etc. So obedience is a matter of pushing back and forth and meeting more or less in the middle.

    I think that’s a huge mistake. The requirement of obedience is absolute. This doesn’t mean you have to crack down hard on every little infraction. What it does mean, is that you don’t obey because I’ll get mad at you, but because it would be wrong not to — not because it’s against my will, but because it’s against God’s will that you not obey me. At the same time, you try to explain rationally why you have made the decisions you have made, which you require them to obey. But in the end, they have to obey whether they agree with your reasoning or not. You’re not being mean or strict for its own sake, it’s just that you are accountable to God for raising them in the best way possible. Accordingly, you have to do what you think best, even if they disagree.

    The second thing is finding a good Catholic community to be a part of. The thing that made the most difference in my kids’ faith lives was transferring them to a NAPCIS school ( The school my kids attend was founded by parents who were dissatisfied with the type of education and especially faith formation that their kids were getting in the local diocesan Catholic schools. For this reason, parents who send their kids to this school are serious about their faith and about being faithful to the Magisterium.

    The vast majority of my kids’ school peers are themselves faithful young Catholics from faithful Catholic families. The result is a kind of positive peer pressure, where people don’t think you’re weird if you don’t cuss or badmouth your parents behind their backs, and if you actually “believe all that stuff” which the Church teaches. And of course they take care to hire faithful and devout teachers, so that the students’ faith is reinforced at every turn. I must say that the students at this school are the happiest, kindest and most courteous group of kids I have ever seen.

    By the way, although the parents tend to be conservative Catholics, this is not a traditionalist group. The kids attend weekly Mass in the vernacular at the local parish.

    NAPCIS has now grown into a national organization of independent, parent-founded schools that are expressly faithful to the Magisterium and follow (more or less) a classical curriculum. I strongly encourage you to find one if your area if one is available, and to send your kids there if at all possible. We have had a monster of a commute in trying to make it work for us, but it has been absolutely worth it.

    May God bless you in your endeavor to raise your family in the faith!


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