Letter to a weary Catholic parent

| Liz Kelly | August 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

A woman emails me to tell me about her daughter: She’s 12 and has tried to commit suicide multiple times. She’s in a mental health facility, and she’s not making much progress. Would I please pray?

Another writes to tell me about her son: He wants to become female. The state in which this family lives is supporting the son in this decision, despite his being only 16, and despite the evidence compiled by his mother that sex-change operations don’t really fix “the problem,” but often increase depression and suicidal tendencies.

Another mom and dad tell me that their daughter came home pregnant recently, and she doesn’t know who the father is. They had no idea she was sexually active. Another father writes about a son who is addicted to opioids. He fell some years ago and broke his back, and during a 2-year-long recovery, he got addicted to oxycodone. His parents have tried everything: treatment centers, healing retreats, even a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. But the crippling addiction continues. They’re afraid the only thing left is jail.

Children suffering depression, pornography addiction, eating disorders, mood disorders, confusion about sexual orientation, even one child who wants to identify as “a non-binary human.”

Mom and Dad, I hear you.

I am sorry for your pain and even more sorry that I have no tidy reply about why God would allow such anguish to visit your home, your precious children. I believe you when you say you’ve been faithful, you’ve prayed and fasted and done everything you knew to do. I’m guessing it’s not your fault. I’ve met a few of you in person, and I can see that you’re pretty darn normal, not crazy child abusers. You’re attentive and responsible parents who never in a million years dreamed you would be struggling with “this.”

All I can say is, the Father knows all about standing with a child who is suffering. He’s an expert in this pain. And though the philosophers will argue that “God cannot suffer, he is pure joy,” I believe the Father knows your pain intimately, personally, and he will never abandon you to it alone. He has heard and received every prayer that has emanated from your broken heart. What’s more, he loves your child and has glorious plans for your child and this pain. No place exists where your child is beyond his reach.

Pope Benedict said it this way: “What [the Gospel story] is ultimately telling us is this: Despite all the horrors, human history will not be drowned in the night of self-destruction; God will not let it be torn from his hands. The divine judgments, the great sufferings in which humankind is submerged are not instances of destruction but serve the salvation of humankind. Even ‘after Auschwitz,’ even after the most tragic catastrophe of history, God remains God; he remains good with an indestructible goodness. … the most important thing of all for human beings does exist … we have the interventions of God’s love in history, most powerfully in the figure of Jesus.”

Mom and Dad, God remains God, and in the end, your child will not be torn from his hands. Our God is so powerful and so good, as St. Augustine reminds us, he will cause good to emerge, even from evil. It’s OK if you don’t believe that; Augustine and I will believe it for you.

And oh yes, I will pray.

Merciful Father, reveal your goodness and power to every parent in pain.

Kelly is the author of six books, including the award-winning “Jesus Approaches” (Loyola Press, 2017), which has been chosen by the U.S. Catholic Book Club as its October 2018 selection. She is a parishioner of St. Michael in Stillwater. Visit her website at lizk.org.

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Category: Your Heart His Home