Worried About The Spiritual Resoluteness Of My Son’s In The Catholic Church

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I took notice of my children’s capacity to focus at both the Catholic Mass and Greek Orthodox Divine Liturgy. This may seem like such a small thing to take note of but it stuck out like a sore thumb to me. Their ability to focus at the Catholic one was extremely low. They were running up and down the pews, punching one another and constantly had to be separated. The behaviour would increase when I was not present and called to do the readings on the altar.

My wife explained that with the Bishop present they were punching one another. “I was thinking, I hope the Bishop doesn’t think I’m a bad mother.” I laughed about it.

When we went to the Greek Orthodox Liturgy for the first time I didn’t notice their silence for some time. My older son stood for the entire Liturgy. I asked him if he wanted to sit but he refused. For him, standing was to prove he wasn’t weak and could be like the other men. He couldn’t take his eyes off the Liturgy the same with his younger brother.

I thought, perhaps it was a one off thing. They’re in a very new environment and so have yet to breed familiarity with it all. But after weeks of attending the Liturgy the focus is still as sharp as it had been the first day they’d arrived.

I left the Catholic Church in my teens. Even long before when my father would drag me my heart had never been into it. When puberty came, the corny uncool music and imagery of the modern churches bored me to death. It was boring. It didn’t feel spiritual. I could understand why Irish culture liked Buddhism and Hinduism. Like Orthodoxy they were exotic and spiritual in appearance and teaching. There is nothing to be attracted to on a Sunday in a Roman Catholic parish. . . nothing.

The only reason I stayed was because of the nature of my reversion at the age of 23 in 2008. The Lord got me good with that one. I then had to live with that and my desire to be Orthodox from then onwards.

It had always been present in the back of my mind that, if I don’t do something quick to protect my sons, they’ll leave religion altogether like I did. It is only a few years away to my first born sons teenage years. If I don’t act now he will lose all enthusiasm and be lost forever. I of all people know that it would take a fully developed adult either with a mystical experience of the Lord or good stubborn will to remain Roman Catholic in 2021.

There’s nothing there for kids. . . nothing. For whatever reason, my children seem to really like this ancient Liturgy of St.John Chrysostom. His liturgy is a condensed version of St.Basil the greats before him. St.Basils Liturgy was a whopping four hours long. John thought he was doing great condensing it down to 2 hours. Today Catholic Mass lasts for 15-20 mins on weekdays and 30-40 mins on Sundays.

I thought, “how can my children remain focused for 2 hours and not misbehave, while at Catholic Mass they’re naughty for almost 40 minutes?” I couldn’t make sense of it and I tried. One reason is due to theatrical nature of the Greek Orthodox Liturgy along with the engagement of the five senses.

Last night I watched a documentary of a British TV director for the BBC. He had visited Russia to explore this new found Christian country being developed under the guidance of President Putin. Even though not religious, the presenter couldn’t help himself and explained how beautiful the Liturgy had been. The choir, the golden candlelight and he said, “The theatrical way in which the priest disappears behind the royal doors and then reappears again.”

All of it has a Rhythm to it that maintains our focus. I’ll be honest and say that once it’s over, you don’t actually realize you’ve been there for two hours. However, while at a Catholic Mass it feels like it’s never going to end. It’s like watching paint dry. The dry tone of the priest as he reads rather than sings the prayers. Sometimes they have a choir that breaks up the monotony but that’s rare. Most of the time it’s a guitarist or some youth rock band. Dreadful.

Everyday my worry had been that these young boys will become disillusioned with religion if this is allowed to continue. Although most of the hatred by local priests is directed towards me, they have felt it too. This is because we are one body. When one member of the body is in pain the others feel it also. It’s very difficult to protect children from fireside chatter in the home too and they hear everything.

They’re aware for example that they could never be altar boys again at the local Dominican Church and meet up with the other kids. Why? Because I got into a bit of a fracas with them over not hearing a girls confession during Covid and turning her away. The priest unfriended me on Facebook and took the time out of his busy schedule to do the same with my wife even though she’d done him no harm.

The Lord has allowed all this persecution mostly because He doesn’t want us there. The Will of the Lord and his plans can never truly be known. But one thing is for certain, that if my children continue to endure what they’re currently enduring and at such a young age, they’ll leave. That’s what happened me, I walked away because it was corny and boring. I can’t allow that happen to my kids which is why I believe among other things that the Orthodox faith is the best place for them.

I tried dragging them to the Latin Mass but it was full of right wing political radicals with more psychological and spiritual problems than we could handle. They also messed around at that too because it’s quite quiet and regimented for a child with an active mind.

I don’t know. . . I can’t explain it, but the Greek Liturgy seems to amaze them. It’s only a priest and three people chanting and yet they love it. I’d love to see them at a high Liturgy in Greece in a proper big Orthodox Church. When we return to either Corfu, Rhodes or Athens I will have to take them for the ultimate Greek experience complete with big choir. They’ve also been asking me to take them to the “Holy Mountain.” “Take us to the Holy Mountain Dad” they say. They’re referring to Holy Mount Athos.

We will have to go but I hear the monks don’t accept children under the age of 12 on the mountain. We will see. . . maybe they will make an exception to the rule? I don’t know, but for now I need to protect these young kids from the liberal culture and Church Ireland has regressed into.

Yesterday me and my wife without any bias and much objectivity as we could muster, desperately tried to give ourselves reasons to stay in the Catholic one. We couldn’t find any.

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