When it comes down to it, happiness and holiness are about acting from love of God and neighbor, not from fear of suffering and failure. By having children, you become that much more like the God of love who took the risk of creating you in his love, and then giving you the freedom to return his love or not. To be happy, you have to take risks.
But know that God is with you along the whole journey.
Here is my last word: the best advice I can give you on keeping your kids Catholic or helping them to come back if they have left is to be fully Catholic yourself. Being fully Catholic means loving God with your whole heart and trusting that God loves you and those whom you love with his whole heart. It means loving your spouse and your children regardless of their faith or love. It means being a witness to joy and hope in life everlasting.
It is important to remember that God has given us as the first and greatest commandment to love him with our whole mind, heart, soul and strength, but we sometimes forget that God has also given himself the commandment to love us with his whole being! It is as if God said to us: “You be concerned about loving me, and I’ll take care of loving you. You don’t have to worry about taking care of yourself. That’s my job.” St. Alphonsus de Ligouri says that God loves us so much it is as if he has made his happiness depend upon us, as if we were God to him! With such a loving Father, how can we have anything less than perfect confidence for the salvation of our children who are also his children?
When God sent his only Son into the world, he did not send him as a grown man like Adam. He sent him as a child born to a married woman, born into a family. Each member of that family now lives together in heaven, body and soul, the first fruits of our redeemed race. So not only did God raise his Son Jesus up; he also saved the members of his family, and glorified them together with Jesus. This Holy Family knew the sorrows of human families. Joseph and Mary also sought for their lost child in sorrow. Joseph and Mary had to live by faith and hope in God. Just as God loves the Holy Family, God loves your family and wants to save your family. Just as he has made the family his instrument for giving natural life, so too he wills the family to be his instrument for giving supernatural life. Grace builds upon and perfects nature.
If you want your entire family to be saved, then live like the Holy Family. Imitation is the sincerest form of devotion. Pray together, love together, sacrifice and suffer together for a time in this life. If you do these things you will rejoice forever together in heaven. Amen.
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