A few weeks ago, I attended a men’s prayer breakfast at my parish. The speaker gave a short talk on the importance of praying as a family. One of the most challenging roles as a parent is not preparing your children to go out into the world on their own, but rather giving them the gift of faith.
Our core societal sickness is based on a lack of spirituality. Faith, increasingly treated with suspicion, meets a core need of the human person. Thinking that one can be truly healthy without a vibrant faith life is like thinking one can have their nutritional needs met through a diet void of protein. It’s a part of the bigger picture.
Economists and sociologists are starting to study this dimension of our society and the very real impact that it is having on people and families in our country. Known as “deaths of despair,”
these academics are finding links between a lack of faith and a disconnection form what it means to be human. This disconnect is resulting in a despair that leads to a rising suicide rate in the most prosperous country in the world.
How is it that faith can be the antidote? For one, it brings together people with shared values. It puts the ups and downs of life into perspective. Great joys are gifts, blessings. Great disappointments and heartaches are periods of refining, moments that can be jumping off points to a deeper, more vibrant faith life. Beyond that, faith gives meaning to all of the moments in life, large and small.
Denying a core part of the human person is a dangerous proposition. To live a rich and meaningful life, we must tend to every aspect of our personhood: our physical health, our emotional health, our relationships, our intellectual development, our sexuality, and our spirituality. Ignoring any one of those areas leaves us feeling emptier than we should. Abusing any of these areas causes real damage to our lives.
Passing on the Catholic faith is about more than just checking a box. It’s about giving my children a solid framework through which they can process every decision and event in their life. It’s about giving them the support that they need to go out and serve their communities. It’s about showing them that despite the turmoil or chaos around them, there’s a steady, constant set of truths that will not bend. It’s a gift as important and providing a stable home and one that I must work on passing on every day.