How do you, as a parent, handle the difficulty of watching your child leave the practice of the Catholic Faith? How do you handle the thought that your child may be lost forever?
Jamie, a concerned mother, called into Father Simon Says to ask for advice about how to help her formerly estranged nineteen-year-old son who is dealing with depression and says he no longer believes in God or the things that his family believes in. Jamie said her son’s girlfriend nor his best friend believe in God either.
“Obviously it was really hard to hear that when we’ve raised all of our kids to be strong Catholics and they know their Faith. I know there’s some mental illness going on right now, so I understand that that could be a part of it, but I also believe that [his mental illness] is a result of [his atheistic beliefs] because when you stop believing in God, you stop believing in all goodness, all truth, and it can only lead – in my mind – to depression.”
Jamie said that she doesn’t want to abandon her son during his struggle but she doesn’t know what to do to help him.
Father Simon empathized with her, recognizing that her assessment was accurate.
“There’s not much that you can really do. He’s on his own. Of course, you pray for him, and you continue to hold what you hold,” he said. “If I could talk to him, I would say, ‘Well of course there’s a God. God exists by definition.’ ‘What do you mean God exists by definition?’ ‘That than which nothing greater can exist is God.’”
If there is good, better, and worse, then there is something that is the best. That “something” is God. If there is something that is powerful, something that is more powerful, and something that is powerless, there must be something that is most powerful. That “something” is God. If Jamie’s son were to say that the universe is self-created, he would merely be admitting that the universe is God, the greatest force. We, as Christians, believe that the greatest force that brought everything into existence is love.
Father Simon contested that Jamie’s son didn’t stop believing in God, but rather he never believed in God, because to believe means to trust. His newfound adherence to atheism is merely an expression of the opinion that God does not exist, but by the very existence of existence, God exists. The real point of contention between atheism and Christianity is not God’s existence but His nature. And to find the truth about His nature, one should read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
“You don’t believe in God? That’s fine. He still believes in you.”
Jamie asked Father Simon for some final advice as a parent struggling over the thought of the soul of her child being lost forever. She said she doesn’t want to despair over this, but it’s a difficult thing to surrender to God’s hands.
Father Simon offered her the words that St. Ambrose offered to St. Monica who prayed for the conversion of her son, St. Augustine, for seventeen years: “It is impossible that the child of so many tears should perish.”
Tune in to Father Simon Says weekdays at 1pm CT